Blockchain in Insurance. Why do we need it?

In 2009, mass understanding of Bitcoin’s digital currency transaction capabilities, let alone its blockchain foundation, was tentative at best. The technology was dismissed as niche and experimental.

The leaps that we are able to make in innovation and technology are rarely more obvious than in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space. In seven short years since the inception of Bitcoin, blockchain technology is now being explored by the most traditionally conservative industries including financial institutions and central banks. Venture capital investments have rapidly increased and thus accelerated the growth of this technology, with US800M invested in blockchain related start-ups in 2014/15 alone (McKinsey & Company: Insurance 2016).

In addition to banks and financial institutions, insurance companies are also uniquely positioned to apply blockchain technologies in their operations and structure. Bob Crozier, who has been a core member of Edge (Innovation Unit) at AIA since its inception 2014, shares his vision for blockchain in insurance.

1. When did it become clear to you that there were untapped opportunities in blockchain and insurance?
Everyone talks about Blockchain’s relevance to FinTech but because it’s so robust, the technology can be applied to a whole host of different industries. It has been on our radar in its Bitcoin blockchain guise for some time but with the advent of Ethereum and the notion of “Smart Contracts” in July last year we undertook more targeted research.
How insurance works is really a series of contracts. This means that the potential has become increasingly obvious to us.

2. What do you think will be the main challenges to incorporating blockchain with an organisation like AIA?
Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) are still quite immature technologies from an insurance perspective. Most of the worldwide focus has been on solving the payment problems and transaction volumes to get to the ‘Visa” standard. The main challenges for us will be securing customer data and getting the insurance industry to work together to solve common problems around identity and fraud. The power of this technology will be unleashed when we, as an industry, all work together and take advantage of the network effect.

3. AIA recently joined the R3 Blockchain Consortium. Why, and what does this entail exactly?
As well as pursuing our own Blockchain and DLT initiatives internally, we feel it is our duty as the largest independent publicly listed pan-Asian insurance group to lead the way in discovering the potential of this technology for our industry and indeed the customers we serve. Joining R3 is a means for us to work with our financial services peers in setting the standards and shaping the agenda to solve pain points for our customers and the industry itself. We have a bias toward building and we can’t do that sitting on the sidelines. We will work on projects with other R3 partners that aim to solve those problems as well as inform regulators of our progress so they can join us in this new phase of discovery.

4. Do you see blockchain solutions as being differently applied in the Asia-Pacific region where you are based?
No, we are solving problems that are inherent to lots of markets around the world. If we create a better, faster ‘Know Your Customer’ or ‘Anti-money Laundering’ solution here in Asia then the aim is to share this innovation with our international network.

5. What’s the coolest (non-insurance related!) application of blockchain you’ve seen so far?
There are so many I don’t know where to start. A digital identity for everyone making ID theft near impossible is one area that is really cool. I’ve also seen an application that provides a method of proving the provenance of diamonds from mine to jewelry which offers the hope of ridding the world of conflict diamonds.

 

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Bob Crozier
Associate Director, AIA Edge (Group Innovation)

Bob is the Associate Director for AIA Edge responsible for delivering tangible use cases for emerging technologies for business unit and function assessment. He manages the AIA Healthcare Accelerator programmes with particular focus on connecting the start-ups with the right people with AIA. Leveraging on this knowledge, he is a Digital Health Intrapreneur specialised in building a new health and wellness platform based on a new insurance business model.

He leads a Social Collaboration and Networking initiative across AIA’s 18 markets to drive culture change and instill sharing and collaboration at the heart of what AIA does.

Bob has financial modelling and actuarial engineering background in both valuations and data science.

AIA Accelerator 4.0 Kicks off!

On Monday October 3rd 2016, a Start-up Mini Pitch Day was held for AIA Accelerator 4.0 programme simultaneously in Singapore & Hong Kong.

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18 selected start-ups from across the world delivered their 5-minute pitches to showcase how relevant their tech is to add value and /or solve AIA current business needs across the region.

Following a rigorous selection process, we have selected 5 start-ups to continue with the accelerator programme. Learn more about the startups here.

In the coming 8 weeks, they will work hand in hand with AIA and KPMG teams to build prototypes validating the potential tech add-on features and the associated business benefits.

 

 

Demo Day Recap

Here’s a insider look at the AIA Accelerator Batch 2.0 Demo Day held last March:

Although the Hong Kong AIA accelerator is on Hiatus, the AIA/KM accelerator is now in full gear and just entered its 6th week. This means that the AIA/KM accelerators own Demo Day is right around the corner. Stay tuned and follow its progress here: https://aia-km-accelerator.com/

 

Demo Day 2016

Congratulations to the nine founders who successfully pitched at the AIA Accelerator 2.0 Demo Day! The graduates had the opportunity to present their innovative businesses to a room of 200 investors and industry experts in a bid to secure follow-on funding and partnerships.

The event marks the team’s completion of the 12-week programme, during which they learnt to navigate the fast-paced startup world (as well as the streets of Hong Kong). This was no easy process – the teams underwent a roller coaster ride of success’s and failures in hopes of realising of their ideas and we couldn’t be more proud of them. Keep a look out for these teams in the future, we are sure they will continue to shape the HealthCare landscape of tomorrow.!

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For a full gallery of Demo Day, check out Campaign Asia’s coverage of the event here.

 

AIA Accelerator Week 11 Update & Investor Relationship Tips!

“Uber is not proprietary technology but it is a proprietary experience”

– Steve Monaghan, Head of Edge, AIA

In the last weeks of the AIA accelerator the focus turns to Pitching and Investor conversations.  Week 11 kicked off with an intense 1:1 pitch practice session between each startup and a panel of the key accelerator stakeholders at Nest and AIA.

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This was followed by an interactive Investor Relations session delivered by the Nest Investment team, who reviewed the startups’ investor decks and shared insights into what investors are looking for.

Looking to attract top investors? Here are some quick tips from the Nest Investment Team:

  1. Identify the problem
  2. Market size (who is affected by the problem?)
  3. Explain why your solution can solve the problem
  4. Present a case study with testimonial from customers
  5. Present milestones – what has been accomplished and what are your objectives
  6. Competitive landscape slide – who is in your space and how are you better
  7. Financials/Customer growth if you have a product
  8. Explain why you are looking for strategic partners and what you will be using expansion funds for

StartmeupHK Festival 2016

StartmeupHK Festival 2016 was held this past week. The festival was InvestHK’s most successful event yet, drawing in a large international crowd due to the attendance of numerous entrepreneurial big shots, including Tesla & SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

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Day 5 of the festival was the AIA Health Tech Asia Day. Many of the AIA accelerator founders (including batch 1.0 alumni) attended and had to opportunity to sit on panels, present their ideas and showcase their products in front of a room full of startup enthusiasts. Check out the gallery below:

AIA Main Panel

The AIA Main Panel – Panel members included Jeroen Van Duffelen (CEO of MedRithm from the current accelerator) and Simon Squibb (CEO of Nest)

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Sanwa Biotech Pitching – An alumni from the Accelerator 1.0 Program

Heartisans AIA

Heartisans Pitching – Another alumni

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Aschkan Malek from AlemHealth Pitching

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The OPER team talking with festival attendees at their booth

 

The Hong Kong Government Takes An Interest in AIA Batch 2.0

OPER received HKD$3M in seed funding from the Hong Kong Government. The local startup is currently researching the use of world-leading nanomaterial-based personalized autologous neural stem cell harvest to treat patients with neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. The management of these diseases has become a growing concern around the world due to ageing populations and rising healthcare costs.

Hong Kong's ageing populaton - courtesty of (http://www.budget.gov.hk/2013/eng/budget27.html)

Hong Kong’s ageing population – courtesy of “http://www.budget.gov.hk/2013/eng/budget27.html”

NovusTech held a product demo with the Hong Kong Government’s Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Fund (SIE Fund). The fund targets social entrepreneurs and objective is to develop innovations that aim at creating social impact and build social capital for supporting poverty relief in Hong Kong. NovusTech’s Talk-Now product- a wearable device that can translate sign language to voice and text –most definitely fits this criteria!

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This year, the Hong Kong government has finally taken off it’s training wheels and is heading full throttle towards its vision for turning the city into a thriving startup economy. Both team’s success has come hot off the tail of the January 13th annual policy address given by Chief Executive CY Leung, during which he pledged to set up four funds, in the sum of HK$4.7 billion, to support IT R&D, encourage IT innovation, and to finance local IT startups. These funds are:

1) the HK$2 billion university applied research fund

2) the HK$2 billion Innovation and Technology Venture Fund

3) the HK$500 million Innovation and Technology Fund for Better Living

4) the HK$200 million Cyberport Macro Fund for ICT startups.

Kuaiwear at CES Las Vegas 2016

The Kuaiwear team flew out to Las Vegas this past week, not to hit the tables but to attend the 2016 Consumer Electronics Showcase (CES) and display their multisport biometric headset. The annual tradeshow event draws in more than 150,000 attendees from 150 countries and is often the leading stage for innovative tech companies to announce their new products. The team met with several potential distributors who expressed interest in helping launch the product in the United States. In the US, the headset has already garnered the support of several Olympics athletes such as olympics gold medalist Dwight Phillips.

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The team also met up with Ethan Pierce, Managing Partner for Nest International who flew in from France. Almost a third of all companies at CES are from France and Ethan was there to represent the growing French startup ecosystem. The two parties spent some time together and it was exciting for the Kuaiwear team and Nest team to continue to meet halfway around the world!

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Ethan Pierce and the Kuaiwear Team

 

Key Speaker Session lead by Mark Altosaar, Founder & COO, Lulio

“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.”

                  – Theodore Levitt, Harvard Marketing Professor

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Mark Altosaaar

The startups returned from festivities, travels and a restful break straight back into the fast pace of the programme on January 4th with a session on ‘Product Development’.

Serial entrepreneur Mark Altosaar shared his wealth of experience on the subject, leveraging an extensive background that included previously heading up Philips’ Consumer Research Centre. A lively, interactive discussion lead to key points around the following:

 

 

  • What is important for your customer? Time spent focused just on product development takes away from time on customer research.
  • Building a product is not ‘the product’ of your startup. Your business model is ‘the product’
  • Have I identified a problem worth solving?
  • Is this something people want?
  • Who is paying?
  • Who makes the decision?
  • Who will be using it?
  • Sharing the benefits of a product over the features
  • Within 5-8 seconds, customers need to to understand: what’s in it for me?
  • Make sure to relink the team back to the core mission of the startup, especially important for remote workers, to maintain passion and motivation
  • Strongest competitor: Customer apathy
  • Avoid the trap of losing priority to edge cases and becoming a product expert vs a market expert.

Startups shared their current greatest challenge in product development – some were focused on the product specifications itself based on market research, others were focused on the challenge of onboarding new customers whilst not drawing developers away from product development. A key takeaway was that startups have the ability to react quickly to customer feedback in terms of product development based on being small and nimble.

 

And the answer to last weeks brain puzzle? Spoilers alert…

The farmer’s daughter drew a stone from the bag, then pretended to fumble it and drop it on the floor where it was lost amongst the other pebbles.

“Oh no! Take a look in the bag and whichever colour stone is left in there will be the colour I didn’t draw!” She exclaimed.