Prior to COVID19, Singapore was hosting all the major insurance conferences, led by Asia Insurance Review. With the exception of Insurtech Insights, which was hosted in Hong Kong. I was glad to make it there in November 2019, before the pandemic and the travel restrictions kicked in. Following the success of Insurtech Connect, the biggest insurtech event in the world, hosted in Las Vegas annually Insuretech Connect Asia was born. Originally to be taken place in 2020, it was now a year later taking place virtually.
And while virtual events are not quite the same as in-person events. When in-person, I was usually posting live updates in my LinkedIn feed about each speaker coming to the stage and their main takeaways, then this time I'm summarising few nuggets after watching the on-demand videos.
In these events, you usually can take a dive into the mindsets of both traditional and digital insurers and see where they are heading to. Let's take a session:
"Digital vs traditional insurer - are the differences truly that great?"
Moderator: Michael Gourlay, Chairman, QBE Asia
Tomasz Kurczyk, Chief Transformation & Digital Officer, AXA
Sonali Verma, Head, Digital, CX and Innovation, Regional Bancassurance, Manulife
Melita Teo, Chief Customer & Digital Officer, AIA Singapore
Shiwei Wu, Chief Technology Officer, Huawei Cloud APAC
This session was more representing traditional insurers, where they concluded that there was an acceleration of digital transformations in traditional insurers. Even that some of them are considering moving out of their legacy infrastructure into public cloud servers. Pushing more to digital can also improve the margins, which are getting crushed these years. There was also a notion that traditional insurers can bring on the table a customer-centric mindset and approach. Still, this is highly questionable as most traditional insurers have low NPS scores. To see the other side of the table, I also dialled into the other session:
"Health Tech innovation: what’s the diagnosis for insurers?"
Moderator: Aly Madhavji, Managing Partner, Blockchain Founders Fund
Cole Sirucek, CEO & Co-Founder, DocDoc
Kalai Natarajan, General Manager, DX and Innovation, Dai-ichi Life Insurance
Rosaline Chow Koo, CEO & Founder, CXA
I have heard the stories from Cole and Rosaline before, but I always find them very refreshing. If you're looking for Simon Sinek / Scott Galloway / Richard Brandson in the Asian insurtech scene, I think both Cole and Rosaline are just the right persons. They're brutally honest to talk about the situation as it is. And the truth is that many innovation departments/units in the traditional insurers don't really lead to revolutionary outcomes. That's why it seems that building new digital-first platforms by insurtechs works much better than depositing scanned paper files into legacy systems of traditional insurers.
Ok, you might have heard Cole and Rosaline before as well. What about something new? As a new and positive thing, I enjoyed the duet session
"Unqork & no-code in the Asian insurance market"
Gary Hoberman, CEO and Founder, Unqork
Satoshi Nerio, Head of Nippon Life X
Gary and Satoshi told a story about how Unqork has managed to get into a very conservative Japanese insurance market with a no-code platform. I am still amazed that they have managed to pull off something like that. Respect. And not only in Japan, but they also managed to do similar projects in bureaucratic Latin America. Sounds very promising no-code enterprise company worth investing in.
Talking about investments there was also a session:
"The investor’s view: what makes an insurtech an attractive investment proposition"
Moderator: Kayvon Deldar, Director - Singapore InsurTech, FinTech & HealthTech, Plug and Play
Nikhil Kapur, Partner, Strive
Selvam Moorthy, Director - Investments, Singtel Innov8
Shwetank Verma, General Partner & Founder, Leo.Capital
Oscar Ramos, Managing Director, Chinaccelerator & Partner, SOSV
Is it a disruptor or enablerer? Those are the two broad pillars investors look into. So, that's something you need to consider while pitching them or looking for funding. How do you identify yourself? Enabling better the traditional players or bringing brand new exciting products to the market. In the founders they look the balance of insurance and technical expertise, both are found to be relevant to succeed.
Now I wonder if in 2022 we actually get to all meet together in person in Singapore... Next Insuretech Connect Asia is scheduled for 7th to 9th of June 2022.