IMA Financial Plans to Start Selling NFT Insurance in Decentraland

The top-10 U.S. insurance broker is opening its “Web3Labs” research and development facility in the metaverse.

AccessTimeIconMar 2, 2022 at 4:00 p.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 5:55 p.m. UTC
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First it was banks appearing in the metaverse, now it’s insurance companies.

IMA Financial Group, a large U.S. insurance broker and wealth management firm, is opening a research and development facility in Decentraland, the Ethereum-based virtual world where Wall Street megabank JPMorgan recently set up shop.

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  • Denver-based IMA’s foray into the metaverse, dubbed “Web3Labs,” was driven by the rapid growth of the non-fungible token (NFT) market, said Justin Jacobs, senior vice president of marketing at IMA Financial Group and architect of Web3Labs.

    “We have this huge asset class worth over $40 billion, for which there’s no traditional insurance products,” Jacobs said in an interview with CoinDesk, referring to 2021 research from Chainalysis. “Many NFTs I think would be considered some form of art, and today we transact a ton of business in the realm of specie insurance; fine art, collectibles, things of that nature.”

    The crypto insurance question

    Insurance and cryptocurrency have thus far been uneasy bedfellows, with spotty cover and a dearth of capacity, limited to a handful of blue-chip exchanges and custodians.

    As far as the nuts and bolts of digital asset insurance are concerned, specialist underwriters from Lloyd’s of London working in specie insurance market (policies covering high-value items like gold bullion and works of art held in safe storage facilities) have turned their attention to cryptocurrency locked up in cold storage.

    IMA, which is one of the largest private and employee-owned brokers in the U.S. with predicted revenues this year of around $500 million, has connections with Lloyd’s syndicates for some of its business lines, said Jacobs. But for now, there are no insurance products directed at things like NFTs, he said.

    Inside Web3Labs. (IMA Financial)
    Inside Web3Labs. (IMA Financial)

    Metaverse value chain

    As well as simply having a presence in Decentraland, IMA wants to explore the entire metaverse value chain, Jacobs said, including being able to advise clients that might be apprehensive when it comes to things like decentralized finance (DeFi).

    As such, crypto, NFTs and the metaverse can be compared to the burgeoning cannabis industry in the U.S., he said, where relatively recently firms were fearful to tread, but which now happens to be a sector where IMA manages a significant book of business.

    IMA’s Web3Labs opens with interactive material and content, as well as a tranche of NFTs the firm will be minting, but the hope is to create a location where transactions – such as negotiating insurance cover for an NFT somebody is thinking of purchasing, for example – can take place.

    “I absolutely believe we are quickly approaching an inflection point,” IMA executive Paul Washington said in an interview. “There’s of course a big focus on asset building in the metaverse, which needs to be considered from a risk mitigation standpoint, no question.”

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    CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by Block.one; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.

    Ian Allison

    Ian Allison is an award-winning senior reporter at CoinDesk. He holds ETH.


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