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'AI is absolutely critical for us,' Ping An Technology CEO

Better known for its dominance in China’s insurance market, Ping An Insurance has been delving into the technology space with Ping An Technology.

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Speaking with CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Ping An Technology CEO Ericson Chan said his company is the “high-tech core for the whole Ping An group,” selling end-to-end tech services and conducting research and development in areas such as artificial intelligence, blockchain and cloud services.

“AI is absolutely critical for us,” Chan said, pointing to the group’s automotive insurance business as an example of how consumers have benefited from Ping An’s use of the technology.

“If your car got (into) an accident, you can simply use our app to take a photo of the damaged car,” Chan said. The photo is then cross-referenced with the company’s database of “millions of photos” to recognize the damage level of the car.

“Before … your car gets towed away, we can immediately reimburse the money back into your account,” Chan added, noting that the process results in a situation where the customer is happier.

On the company’s foray into health care, Chan said Ping An helps doctors to work more efficiently. Its machines, he said, were recently recognized as a world leader in detecting potentially cancerous lung nodules accurately from x-rays.

With the help of those machines, “doctor(s) can scan through a lot more X-rays in a much shorter period of time,” Chan said. “That is an efficiency gain.”

The company has also made inroads into the field of preventative care through the use of big data analysis and artificial intelligence.

With a cache of data and AI modeling, Chan said, the company can detect hand, foot and mouth disease, influenza and other diseases “at least a week earlier than before.” Governments, he explained, can use that information to warn the public and take preventative measures.

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