Friday, July 20, 2018

Germans invests in Kenyan blockchain insurance company

German start-up financier GreenTec Capital has announced its investment into Kenyan blochchain based Bismart Insurance company. By using emerging technologies to address the issues of financing and transparency, Bismart aims to gain a strong foothold in the African market. The company will start with a small range of service and products that will be expanded quickly.
The interface being developed by the Bismart team will allow the distribution of insurance products across all of Africa, facilitating the rapid roll-out and scaling of the business.
The company’s founder, Eunice Maina, is a Kenyan woman entrepreneur who has dedicated 15 years’ of her life to protecting customers through insurance. She has now decided to embrace the challenge of Entrepreneurship and use technology to develop a platform that embraces a more personal and trust-building user experience that has been the core of her business.
This platform will also help Bismart to increase efficiency and transparency through the implementation of Blockchain technology “Smart-Contracts” in order to facilitate policy management and benefit from the security of decentralized databases.
Insurance adoption in Sub-Saharan Africa is in the low single digits with South Africa as an exception with a rate above 10%. This is due in part to the inability of insurance companies to rely on the traditional payment channels provided by banks for premium collection and claim pay-outs. Additionally, the African market is primarily composed of consumers with unsteady cash flows and low incomes that are wary of paying for services without perceived tangible benefits.
And finally, insurance acceptance is further limited by low financial literacy at the BOP that leads to inefficiencies in customer acquisition, policy management, and claims resolution. Bismart solves these problems through its platform.
GreenTec’s CEO Erick Yong said “One of the biggest challenges for innovative startups in Africa is the implementation of solutions with distribution channels that have Pan-African reach. Bismart’s application of emerging technologies solves this problem brilliantly, while disrupting the insurance value chain from customer acquisition to risk management.”
In addition to GreenTec’s investment, Bismart has already benefited from the commitment of an initial investor to develop its platform and expects to be able to launch its service offerings by the start of Q4 2018.
Leveraging on cutting edge technology, the company provides a digital interface to offer insurance products and services across Africa. Bismart’s vision is to enable every African to access insurance without the burden of immediate out-of-pocket payments, in a transparent, convenient, and friendly manner.

Technology and collaboration key for insurers in 2018 and beyond

Following a challenging 2017, the South African insurance industry must adopt technology and collaborate with local governments, if it is to effectively tap into new markets to stimulate growth for the foreseeable future.
Many sectors have been very quick in adopting new technology, like the financial services industry, who have been at the forefront of technological innovation. It is time the insurance sector does the same.
Luckily, we have seen certain pockets in the insurance industry follow suit, such as Lemonade, who launched an AI claims bot. It has the potential to investigate and approve a personal lines claim in a record, yes wait for it, 3 seconds! This is a giant leap for the insurance industry. Proper use of technology will vastly improve customer experience. It will also allow insurers to properly assess a client’s exposure, underwrite and price it appropriately.
To stay relevant, insurers must adopt technology and redefine their market. According to the Automobile Association (AA) between 65% and 70% of the 11,4 million vehicles on the road are uninsured. Why is this? Simply put, a vast number of South Africans can’t afford insurance. Our industry needs a concerted effort to provide every single South African access to affordable insurance.
This won’t be easy. The industry faces many challenges in 2018 which needs to be attended to. They are:
Changes in regulation
There are many expected changes to local regulation that will have significant effects on the insurance industry. These include the Retail Distribution Review (RDR), Policy Protection Rules (PPR), Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) and Treating Customers Fairly (TCF).

Much has been said about these changes, suffice to say Insurers need to properly understand the impact of these changes and ensure they have systems and processes in place to properly manage these changes.
The effects of Climate Change
Insurers need to prepare for more frequent and more severe weather incidents. This could be as varied as more severe hailstorms in certain regions and more droughts in other. Insurers need to properly understand the impact of these changes, for example, extended droughts also mean that fixed firefighting systems may not work properly anymore.
Staying ahead of technological innovation
Technology is a key enabler for insurers. Robotics could reduce time spend on mundane tasks and artificial intelligence could enhance decision making, but at the same time, cybercrime is on the rise. Insurers struggle to come to grips with technology that is developing faster than they can cope; drones, cybercrime and driverless cars are just a few developments insurers need to internalize and understand.
Attracting millennials
There are indications that millennials now outnumber other working generations. However, there are very few insurance products that actually cater to their needs. The way insurance is sold, is also not fully aligned with their needs.
The retention of technical skills
The insurance industry has been losing its technical skills at a rapid pace. Very few people leaving school choose insurance as a career. The lack of skills has a negative impact on customer experience and will result in increased premiums as risks are not properly assessed and mitigated. The industry will have to introduce accelerated learning programmes to ensure we build the skills the industry needs.
Collaboration for future success
Besides the many challenges, the insurance industry is well positioned to better predict, anticipate and adapt their approach to the dangers of climate change. Insurers should partner with local government to firstly get an appreciation of the level of accumulation and secondly to prepare an integrated and holistic disaster management strategy.
By doing this, the damage caused by localised flooding can be managed if the exposure is understood and development of new property in flood zones and high-risk flood areas is carefully managed or discouraged.

By WP Pienaar, Chief Underwriting Officer: Commercial and Agri Assets at Old Mutual Insure

Monday, July 16, 2018

Amazon poised to disrupt global insurance industry

Amazon is currently recruiting insurance professionals in London to join a new team looking to disrupt the insurance market in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
Amazon offers transparent services such as the ability to track a package, next-day delivery, a clear returns policy, and customer reviews on products, providing clear communication to customers throughout the purchasing journey.
Patricia Davies, Financial Services Analyst at GlobalData, comments, ‘‘Amazon has a positive reputation for putting customers’ needs at the heart of its propositions. This level of trust is something the insurance industry has really struggled with, especially after the likes of the PPI scandal.’’
According to GlobalData’s 2017 General Insurance Survey 18% of consumers would buy their motor or home insurance from Amazon.
Davies, continues, ‘‘The company is in a good position having established itself as a key service provider for households with it’s “Prime” service, as well as offering a TV channel and movie service. We are already seeing a number of new propositions moving away from annual renewal to a monthly subscription basis, which would fit well with Amazon’s current business model.’’
The company’s investment in technology has brought households the Echo and Dot, voice-activated speakers that uses artificial intelligence to support everyday needs. This positions Amazon well for providing insurance needs, as tech in the home will soon define the insurance requirements of an individual household. This close and interactive relationship is a long way from the limited annual renewal or claim process touchpoints insurers currently work to.
Davies adds, ‘‘If insurers are not careful they may be pushed out of having a direct relationship with customers and will be relegated to the role of a price-driven risk carrier at the back end. Either way this is a sure sign disruption is on the way for the UK insurance market.’’

Cambodian IT firm, IG Tech partner Aitins in the insurance market

Cambodian information technology (IT) solution firm IG Tech announced on Thursday that it had reached a partnership agreement with Malaysia-based Aetins to sell software to insurance companies.
IG Tech chairman Kim Puthkiry said on Thursday that the collaboration will benefit the Kingdom’s tech sector. He said it was not just about the sell-buy agreement, but also the transfer of knowledge to support IG Tech’s move to set up a new all-encompassing tech centre.
The centre will serve as a gathering place for the country’s tech-savvy to learn from experts and eventually develop their own software solutions. “In the future, we will survive with our own solutions and bring our products to compete internationally,” he said.
Puthkiry said the agreement will allow his company to distribute software from Aetins to Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar. While Aetins is a major player with IT solutions for the insurance industry, Puthkiry said he aims to sign similar partnership agreements with IT solution firms from the US, Germany, India and Singapore.
He is looking for firms that specialise in payment platforms, banking systems and other technological areas. Puthkiry plans to set up a co-working space and recruit 10 people from the insurance industry – 20 working in digital solutions and 15 to train in payment solutions.
Aetins managing director Kupusamy Kanniah said the growth of Cambodia’s financial sector has created business opportunities in the insurance industry and provided his firm an opportunity to enter the market.
“Cambodia’s insurance market potential is so high that it is now imperative for players to look for the right technology-enabled solutions to stay competitive and grow,” he said.

Accenture to help build distributed ledger framework for multiple insurance use cases

IT services giant Accenture has joined the Institutes RiskBlock Alliance to serve as the lead framework architect in the consortium created for implementing blockchain technology across the risk management and insurance industry.
Accenture will take up the responsibility for creating a production-grade platform to develop and implement blockchain and distributed-ledger use cases.

The company said that the platform will help the RiskBlock Alliance to implement and evaluate multiple use cases by the year end.

Accenture will also be responsible for maintaining and updating the platform as the business requirements and technologies of RiskBlock members grow. The consortium has seen over 30 global insurers and brokers joining it in the last 12 months.

RiskBlock, through its blockchain-based applications and tools, aims to better serve policyholders and cut down industry and consumer costs by optimizing payments, reducing fraud and making the accuracy of customer data better.

Accenture’s Michael Costonis, who leads the company’s Insurance practice globally, said: “As insurers increasingly rely on partnerships to create business efficiencies and improve customer experiences, blockchain technology will be critical to holding partners accountable without first needing to establish trust.

“RiskBlock has built a powerful alliance, and we’re eager to work with them to develop scalable blockchain use cases in insurance. Blockchain has the power to simplify, secure and speed up the way the insurance industry works.”

RiskBlock Alliance has marked over 40 uses cases and is set to implement and test some of the blockchain solutions offered by Accenture. Included in these is a data-sharing process, a “proof of insurance” application, a subrogation tool and a parametric insurance application.

RiskBlock Alliance president Christopher McDaniel said: “Accenture has established itself as a leader in developing practical blockchain solutions across a number of industries.

“Partnering with Accenture to develop real-world blockchain applications will lead to better insurance solutions and chart a clear course for effectively implementing blockchain technology throughout the insurance industry.”