From the start of 2010, an unprecedented amount of money has been poured into FinTech start-ups around the world. Venture capitalists, private equity firms, corporates and a host of other players have invested more than $50 billion in 2,500 firms since 2010, making the FinTech industry one of the most exciting prospects of the modern economy. After years of investment, FinTech is now reaching maturity and achieving a mainstream position in the marketplace. Insurers must ask themselves to what extent they want to be involved in the FinTech revolution.
As the FinTech industry has reached maturity, there has been a greater level of diversification in the market. Previously untouched industries are now being put under the microscope, andthe insurance industry is emerging as the next big thing. Where before FinTech has been focussed on retail payments, now strategy and investment are setting their sights on the insurance industry. In 2015, global investment in InsurTech more than tripled from the previous year, signalling a significant change in the scope and strategy of the insurance industry.
Investors in InsurTech are seeking to disrupt and enhance traditional practices within the industry. FinTech start-ups are divided between being collaborative or competitive. Competitive FinTechs pose two main threats to the insurance industry – loss of revenue, and loss of relevance. On the other hand, collaborative FinTechs can offer insurers, amongst other things,reduced operating costs. Investors are beginning to favour collaborative FinTechs, realizing the benefits from welcoming enhancement to their practices rather than fighting disruption from an emergent industry player. Total investment in FinTech start-ups favoured collaboration, with investment rising from 44% in 2014, to 70% in 2015. Investment in competitive FinTechs reduced from 56% in 2014, to 30% in 2015. Insurers must guarantee their future security by welcoming InsurTech companies with open arms.
InsurTech offers a golden opportunity to revolutionize the industry. Most insurers are still tied to a traditional business model, based on pooling risk, calculating average pricing and generating gross premium income. This model is increasingly under threat from digital technologies, such as wearable devices, smart objects and connected cars. Where there is a threat, there is also an opportunity – these innovative technologies offer a new, rich data source, providing new possibilities for underwriting, increasing customer centricity and reducing costs.
InsurTech companies have the ability to transform the operational practices of the insurance industry, to the benefit of both business and customer. 67% of all InsurTech deals have been involved companies who specialize in insurance automation, and 80% of all funding has been for non-life insurance innovation. For example, Censio has developed software that automatically monitors and measures driver data for auto insurers. Similarly, Oscar Health Insurance has partnered with wearable-device company Misfit, rewarding healthy customers by automatically linking their biometric information to their health insurance. The advantages of embracing InsurTech are plain for all to see – it is essential that insurers do not get left behind the rest of the financial world.
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