There are plenty of defining years in the history books, and as 2020 draws to a close, it’s almost certain that the global pandemic will ensure that this year is featured prominently. With events cancelled, launches delayed, and country-wide lockdowns, the way we work has changed forever. Still, for financial technology and surrounding industries, this was also a year of challenge and opportunity.
This December, The Fintech Times is asking industry leaders for their ‘View from the Top’ to gain an insight into the decisions behind the last 12-months. Today, we’re looking at the issue of insurtech, hearing from Colin Brown, Yen Ming Lee and Ambareen Musa on their 2020 thoughts, plus a look ahead to 2021. Will there be a Happy New Year? Read on…
Insurance protects the things that we love most. If it’s dear to us, we insure it. Whether it’s our houses, our health or our pets, the financial platforms used for these as very varied. The turbulence caused by the pandemic has brought this to the forefront of many peoples minds, and due to that insurance has almost never been more important. In this View from the Top, companies Policy Street, Arzya Group, and Souqalmal.com outline their own 2020 experience.
Yen Ming Lee is CEO of Policy Street, an insurance technology company that aims to advance inclusive and impact insurance in South East Asia. One of the trends he’s seen this year is the digitalisation boom.
“The first trend I see is the push towards digitalisation. I think there’ll be a lot more digitalisation happening, not just on the consumer and distribution ends, but also from the insurance themselves. If you look at the industry as a whole, we are moving towards a more digital society. The penetration of social media, use of mobiles and the internet is very high with Malaysia, but the insurance sector itself has yet to undergo full digitalisation. There is still a need to meet face to face to buy a policy, and with that still the norm growth is hampered. I think insurance companies today are scrambling to make sure they can digitise their offerings because I think they know that the old way of running businesses is not going to be viable. That’s really the new normal happening.
“Insutrechs around the world are also now pushing heavy on data. Having detailed data can determine what kind of policies fit consumer demand, what can we develop for the market. That’s a big trend that we have seen over time and will continue to see as we have yet to have companies to collect the right meaningful data.
“Finally, we’re also seeing a shift in mindsets, as there is an emerging trend of consumers wanted more customised on-demand products. Rather than having everyone buy the same, “off the shelf” product, I think there’s going to be a big push to personalise services to match the needs of the individual customer.”
Ambareen Musa launched Souqalmal.com in 2012 a financial comparison and insurance platform in the UAE, KSA & Bahrain. The company ranked second among Forbes’s “Top 20 Most Disrupting FinTech Startups” in the Middle East. She agrees that the industry needs to catch up in terms of going digital.
“Insurtech companies are extending innovation throughout the insurance sector by being more accessible and providing a better user experience. Their instant, streamlined, customised and cost-effective nature targets consumers who value convenience over brand loyalty. The continued growth and success of the insurance aggregator model in the UAE is a result of positive penetration of technological revolution in the insurance industry.
“Insurtech aims to bring about technological advancement in the traditional insurance business models, fundamentally making their operations and strategies more efficient. The innovative approaches and prompt digital transactions are in line with the needs and requirements of the new generation of customers.
“Technavio in its 2016 industry report predicted a 10% compound annual growth rate for the global Insurtech market during 2016 – 2020. Digital transformation is indeed the new reality. Today, even the most traditional models require some degree of digital integration to be truly effective.
“Considered a threat by traditional insurance incumbents a decade ago, the image of insurtech startups has evolved over the past decade. Insurance companies have now started looking at insurtech startups as growth enablers. Having drawn USD 16.5 billion globally in investments over the past decade, insurtechs are at the forefront of innovation in an industry that has historically been slow to change.
“A 2017 report by Wamda and Payfort predicted a 400% increase in the number of fintech start-ups in the MENA region from the year 2013 to 2020 – That’s clearly an indication of explosive growth in the sector in less than a decade. The insurance industry in the region is at the cusp of digital transformation. Innovative technologies and insurtech forces are already disrupting the insurance sector.”
Colin Brown is CEO of Aryza Group, a developer of tried and tested software solutions for financial services and insolvency. He has found that the measures introduced by the pandemic have increased the need for debt solutions.
“Covid-19 has created a completely unprecedented set of circumstances, placing huge financial strain on thousands of people across the UK. The interim measures that have been introduced by the government – such as the furlough and income support scheme, have helped to an extent, but the underlying need for debt solutions has certainly increased.
“We’ve noticed a rise in the number of lenders looking to automate the management of payment plans and collection strategies, hoping to provide consumers with a more personalised and reassuring journey.
“We know that a higher proportion of consumers prefer to engage with lenders digitally, at their own convenience – either from their phone, tablet or PC. It’s completely understandable that those struggling financially may be reluctant to discuss their situation with a stranger and we want to help eliminate these hurdles.
“Ultimately, reframing the conversation around money management has been our key aim throughout 2020 and an idea we’ll be championing into next year and beyond. We’ve worked with a number of strategic partners across the fintech and lending space to ensure consumers’ needs are put first and that they can easily understand the options available to them.
“I’m especially proud that we launched Aryza Recover this year, and really believe that this product will revolutionise the way consumers engage with lenders. Currently, there’s no other solution on the market that can bring together open banking data and credit reference information and we’re already getting some great feedback.”