Uber Subsidiary Grants Ethereum Startup Access To Entire American Fleet – Forbes

Ride-sharing giant Uber has taken another step towards blockchain with news today that its healthcare subsidiary, Uber Health, has granted access of its entire American fleet to Solve.Care, a startup using the ethereum blockchain to connect nearly every aspect of the healthcare ecosystem via a shared ledger of transactions.

When the service goes live later this year, Solve.Care’s clients will not only be able to schedule doctor’s visits and book rides to healthcare care appointments, but they’ll also be able to pay for the services using either of the company’s native tokens, representing the first time any Uber subsidiary has opened up its doors to a company using cryptocurrency.

While Solve.Care patients won’t pay Uber drivers directly in cryptocurrency, they will have the option to pay for the services with either the solve token or the care coin, both issued on the ethereum blockchain, and Solve.Care will periodically settle directly with Uber. Drivers won’t need to wait to be compensated but will continue to have access to their existing payment options.

Following news last month that Uber has joined Facebook and 26 other companies in founding the Libra Association, developing the libra cryptocurrency for global payments, this latest development shows an increased willingness of the $72 billion publicly traded company to dabble in blockchain.

As enterprises around the world are increasingly taking the technology first popularized by bitcoin more seriously, such partnerships, where a well-known publicly traded company gets to learn about blockchain up close and personal but without skin in the game, are likely to be increasingly common. 

“This is just the beginning,” says Uber Health head Dan Trigub, who previously worked as vice president of healthcare partnerships at Lyft, a member of the Libra Association and also a Solve.Care partner. “We’re always going to be looking to expand and grow what we can do with Solve.Care. I think in blockchain in general, it’s still early days.”

Launched in March 2018, Uber Health is a wholly owned subsidiary of Uber, which went public in May with plans to expand its healthcare offerings. The stock is currently trading at $42.95, down 8% over the past five days. Trigub says “dozens” of companies have since tapped directly into Uber Health’s application programming interface (API), giving them direct access to the transportation giant’s fleet of cars. Since the API is designed to comply with the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), patients have increased confidence their privacy is being protected.

While Uber API users like Ride Health in New York are also using the interface to make sure patients don’t miss their appointments, Solve.Care aims to connect an entire integrated healthcare economy to the transportation service. Healthcare logistics firm SCI Solutions estimates that $150 billion is lost annually due to missed appointments.

Founded in 2018, the Tallinn, Estonia-based company raised $20 million in an initial coin offering (ICO) by selling solve tokens issued on the public ethereum blockchain that are used to access and use the network of services. Since February 2019, the price of a solve token has more than doubled from about $0.15 to about $0.32 today, down from an all-time high of $0.51, according to CoinMarketCap data. The total solve token market value is about $102 million. A second coin, called care coin, can be purchased by customers and is designed to have a stable price, making it more attractive as a means of payment.

Because the platform is being built on the open source ethereum blockchain, anyone can build on it and accept the tokens. By moving such a wide variety of healthcare services to a single shared ledger, Solve.Care founder and CEO Pradeep Goel thinks he can remove administrative redundancies, make it easier to find the right doctor, reduce insurance fraud and, thanks to the Uber integration, help ensure patients make their appointments.

“We are eliminating all that cost, effort and barriers to offering transportation as a benefit,” says Goel.  

Solve.Care competitors like IBM’s Health Utility Network are working to offer similar services using a permissioned blockchain, without the cryptocurrency component. The Health Utility Network counts Forbes Blockchain 50 members Cigna, CVS Health and Aetna among its members. The Dav Network is actually aiming to go a step further than Solve.Care by using blockchain to directly connect drivers and passengers without a middleman like Uber and Lyft, though without the HIPAA compliance.

Solve.Care is currently available on the Google Play and Apple stores, with a new version scheduled to be released in the coming months that supports the Uber integration. Initially, the ride-sharing service is expected to be available in the United States only, but Tribug says the borderless nature of blockchain means it could help play a role in further expansions. 

“As we look to scale and grow globally, in other countries, blockchain has various opportunities to help us grow our business,” he concluded.

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