Old Mutual decides against insuring crypto miners

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 10 Jun 2019

Insurance company Old Mutual says it will not insure computers used for crypto-currency mining.

In a statement today, the company says the world of crypto-currencies or digital currencies is growing rapidly as digitisation continues to disrupt the financial services industry.

It notes that mining these crypto-currencies usually requires expensive computers, servers and other equipment. It is important for people to note many insurers do not insure this equipment due to the unregulated nature of crypto mining.

Old Mutual Insure has opted out of insuring computer equipment used for crypto-currency mining due to the unregulated nature of the industry, which is often associated with cyber crime, and its penchant for using modified electronic infrastructure that operates on a 24/7 basis, making it highly prone to overheating and other malfunctions.

The insurer has begun advising its branches not to insure any businesses involved in crypto-currency mining following extensive industry research, as well as an in-depth review of claims from clients that have already incurred losses to equipment used for crypto-currency mining.

Old Mutual notes crypto-currencies are a form of digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange, which use cryptography to secure financial transactions and control the creation of additional crypto-currency units created in the “mining” process.

The insurer estimates there are at least 1 565 crypto-currencies being used globally, with Bitcoin being the most popular and a host of others such as Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple, Dash and Monero vying for attention from speculative investors.

“We have chosen not to provide cover for this type of risk as it is quite tricky to conduct a proper risk analysis of an unregulated fledgling industry that is already on the radar of financial authorities due to the unfortunate association with money laundering and cyber crime,” says Old Mutual insurance expert Christelle Colman.

“It is also a highly volatile industry that attracts a lot of speculators so there is no proper risk rating structure in the local market for this type of risk.

“Even doing a comprehensive inventory of the insured equipment is difficult because the value of the highly modified computer equipment is typically inflated and almost impossible to verify as it is usually imported from obscure suppliers in the Far East.”

Old Mutual says crypto-currency mining operations are typically constructed of heftier application-specific integrated circuit devices that are not only expensive but can overload the computer's central processing units or graphic processing units as they are usually run at 100% capacity.

It notes there is also the added complication that crypto-currency mining is often associated with highly speculative trading activities, meaning the businesses involved can be prone to going bust.

“Old Mutual is currently conducting a comprehensive risk analysis of all clients involved in computer-heavy business activities as well as third-party service providers such as software developers and Web designers to ensure they are not involved in crypto-currency mining,” says Colman.