Fintech investors should look for value beyond re-bundling enablers

Efi Pylarinou is the founder of Efi Pylarinou Advisory and a Fintech/Blockchain influencer – No.3 influencer in the finance sector by Refinitiv Global Social Media 2019.  On the one-hour train ride to Zurich for the annual SICTIC Fintech event that will be held at Trust square, with only the speakers physically present, I focused on reflecting on the Swiss Fintech landscape. Swisscom maps the startups on a monthly […]

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Knock & iBuying in US Real Estate Fintech  

Efi Pylarinou is the founder of Efi Pylarinou Advisory and a Fintech/Blockchain influencer – No.3 influencer in the finance sector by Refinitiv Global Social Media 2019.  The SPAC trend continues in the US and Chamath Palihapitiya is one of the leading investors with his IPOA, IPOB,… series. The latest Fintech deal was focused on a real estate disruptor in the US, OpenDoor. With Zillow, being the blue-chip name […]

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Fintech catching up on the recent SPAC IPO boom

Efi Pylarinou is the founder of Efi Pylarinou Advisory and a Fintech/Blockchain influencer – No.3 influencer in the finance sector by Refinitiv Global Social Media 2019.   July was the month with the Mega-SPAC filing of $4billion. Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management filed an amended IPO prospectus for its coming monster-size SPAC focused on the tech sector. Let’s see if some Fintech ends up in this SPAC. It Has […]

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The missing WHY of Robinhood

Once you finish reading this article, I suggest listening to the Supermode song Tell me why Efi Pylarinou is the founder of Efi Pylarinou Advisory and a Fintech/Blockchain influencer – No.3 influencer in the finance sector by Refinitiv Global Social Media 2019. I had not planned to write two posts on two high growth, two valuation Fintechs in an atmosphere that has turned sour because of the demise […]

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Whose perspective is it? Insurance remains not what it seems at first view


It’s beginning to wear on the insurance industry.  COVID-19?  Kind of.  Moreover it’s the unexpected ripple effects of the outbreak on how lives are led, how insurance intersects life, how perspectives color how insurance news is celebrated or questioned.  We’ve discussed much of COVID-19’s current effects on business and how the future of insurance will need to adapt.  Let’s take this week to see insurance happenings through different lenses, or from a reverse of the Insurance Elephant- from differing perspectives as per sight-impaired gents in the image.

image- MA Devine

Patrick Kelahan is a CX, engineering & insurance consultant, working with Insurers, Attorneys & Owners in his day job. He also serves the insurance and Fintech world as the ‘Insurance Elephant’.

  • COVID-19 cannot be overstated as being a health danger/terror. People have minimal control over exposures, and no control over the extent of symptoms if infected.  Similar thought process applies in business livelihoods of employees and SMEs – there’s little control for an individual over business operations, closures, availability of customers, and recovery funds.  Social distance helps in one aspect, but could be business fatal for the other.


  • Reductions in driving due to implementation of working from home protocols and staying at home is resulting in renewal of discussions for mileage-based auto cover. While that’s being considered carriers in the US announce premium rebates (Allstate, Liberty Mutual/Safeco, American Family, and now Progressive) and/or premium credits for renewals (GEICO).  Overall the rebates/credits are estimated to total $3.5 billion;  contrast that with the findings of  The Consumer Federation of America estimating US carriers are benefiting in additional profits in the amount of $2 Bn per month.  Carriers need to ensure this does not become a PR issue like business interruption cover has.  The upside?  Fewer auto accidents.


  • Government financial recovery programs have been announced in most countries, building optimism for the citizenry and businesses. Problem with government programs for disasters like pandemics is it’s easier to ramp up politicians/ rhetoric than it is to implement and produce the programs’ results.  Example- US Small Business Administration has an effective economic injury loan program, in essence a working capital backstop.  Plenty of funding has been planned but few loans processed to date.  Scaling up and staffing has been a significant challenge.

The time is nigh for the SBA to hand off disaster financial response to fintechs and InsurTechs– the vetting process for disaster loans is just right to digitize, from app to approval to funds distribution.  Just need to change some of the Code of Federal Regulation.

  • AXA’s CEO, Thomas Buberl, has suggested formation of a government/insurer risk pooling scheme to hedge future pandemic responses by insurers. Other similar schemes exist for property damage; need to ensure more than just cost hedging is planned (see Ten C’s Project  and broadening the spectrum of change).


  • Lloyd’s offered a parametric hotel product last fall that would provide payments to hoteliers when occupancy rates fell beyond an agreed index. Few chose to participate; all now have regrets post-COVID.  Whether there was sufficient capacity to take care of all potential interested parties will not be known.  My drumbeat – parametric will become the cover of the coming decade.


  • Worker injuries will be reduced due to business closures and work from home status (hmmm- what if an employee gets injured during mandated work from home sessions?), but potential high severity COVID-19 claims will be prompted for WC due to exposures during work. It’s not just state regulators in the U.S. who see the virus as a potential occupational disease, the Social Security Organization in Malaysia has deemed the disease as such, India has guidance to employers that WC applies if an employee contracts the disease (and has advised salary compensation applies for quarantine ordered staff).  The Province of Ontario, Canada has also followed suit for WC guidance for essential workers .


  • A promising entry into risk financing is the principle of Insurance Linked Securities (ILS), or capital vehicles used to hedge risk, provide coupon return, and widen the source of risk funding into the huge capital pool. Who wouldn’t want to obtain a return on bond investment that is greater than Treasuries,  and certainly better than potential negative rates?  Well seems the reinsurance world has some early grumblings that ILS are muddying the water and softening the rei market.  The remarks in the market that ILS have a destabilizing effect can be read through as injecting some competition and perhaps scraping some cream off the glass of whole rei milk. Thanks to AM Best and Steve Evans of Artemis.Bm for that commentary.


As is typical- insurance doings are strongly influenced by perspective, and little is as it first seems. Stay safe and well.

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COVID-19 supplants InsurTech – moving lower on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Business Needs

Maslow biz

Staff working from home.

Premium growth or reduction?

Staff being repurposed or subject to RIF.

Claims- virtual handling or on-site assessment?

Innovation efforts underway- suspend or continue?

Customers with reduced access to the firm or agents.

Supplies- how much to stock, if the supplies can be found?

Start ups- traction had been tough, now there is no friction.

VC’s and funding orgs- how can we support any investment?

Coverage determination for pandemic or microbial infestation.

Vendor partners- how to maintain relationships or leverage their skills?

Patrick Kelahan is a CX, engineering & insurance consultant, working with Insurers, Attorneys & Owners in his day job. He also serves the insurance and Fintech world as the ‘Insurance Elephant’.

InsurTech funding efforts produced $6.6 billion globally in 2019, and plans for 2020 suggested a similar level of interest for this year.  That was until a few weeks ago, when coronavirus caused insurance companies to radically shift focus from growth, innovation, partnerships, and lowering performance ratios to a focus on cash conservation, staff support, changes in customer contact protocols, and concerns about pandemic coverage, maintaining policies in force, and stability.

The outbreak is a seismic strategic change event.  Not just issues, but fundamental concerns that suggest fundamental responses by the insurance industry, although I’ll admit there are too many ramifications to fully organize and upon which to comment.

Without question insurance incumbents and startups will feel the effects of Covid-19 on how business has been conducted in the industry during the past several years.  The relationships and collaborations between incumbent/InsurTech will be tested in significant ways, including:

  • Will financial support for innovation contract substantially as carriers move to protect liquid assets?
  • Will personnel investment in carriers’ efforts in effecting change be altered to better focus on customer needs and staffing challenges brought by the simple acts of existing in an uncertain world?
  • Startups that have not yet come close to revenue generation- will they be left to wither on the development vine as VCs reconsider asset allocations and reduced confidence in profitable scale up.
  • Will incumbents temporarily abandon new projects/innovations in order to concentrate on core functions?

It’s clear that in the current economy organizations will be moving down the business version of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, from the optional to the basics, from discretionary spending to conservation of customer base.

These and other strategy thoughts found their way across my feed during the past week (with the author’s observations added):

  • Coverage for effects of pandemics have in general been excluded from cover for personal lines and commercial policies, physical, business interruption and liability covers. Simply too broad of a risk (akin to flood) for carriers to underwrite, and typically not direct physical damage.    Put the effects into a global context that affects almost every business and there will be push back.  Arbitrary actions on the part of carriers to afford coverage where there isn’t any has ramifications in uniform claim handling and fair practices- shouldn’t do for one that you can’t for all.  Unfortunately the insurance industry will be seen as the ‘bad guys’  for avoiding cover.  There will be efforts that are ‘fashionable’ to force coverage, for example the US state of New Jersey is considering suggested legislation that will require carriers in the state to provide coverage for the effects of the crisis.  Not the insurance commissioner, the legislature.  Not amending a condition like California’s commissioner did requiring full replacement payment for contents instead of actual cash value, but altering terms of the insurance contract after the fact, and outside the privity of contract.  No one wants customers to have unexpected costs of risk, but the legislators’ suggestion is fraught with many cascading consequences.  Those broad brush benefits reside within the legislature’s grasp, but not using insurance carriers as the delivery pool.


  • John Neal’s Lloyd’s of London office put out a request to its member firms for estimates of potential current and final losses from coronavirus. Certainly, that is good information to know, but it’s due time for Lloyd’s to be able to access those data with a few clicks of a mouse or database query.  Surely the firm’s exposure to probable maximum loss for a peril is a strategic data point to have at arm’s reach, and the unique nature of pandemic cover would suggest PML for any policies in force.  It seems the integration of Blueprint One cannot come soon enough for Lime Street.


  • Worldbank’s Pandemic bonds are on the verge of being triggered to benefit the poorest countries in the world. The primary criteria for triggering have been met, with proof of economic growth among the beneficiary countries remaining to be confirmed.  These bonds provide quick response finds for the countries, and have proven to be a successful alternate risk funding vehicle for capital markets.  This bond type and other cat bonds/ILS are a significant future source of risk financing, with reinsurers and bonding companies working in concert.


  • How insurers work has been shaken with the almost universal shift to remote work (work from home, WFH). Insurance consultant Alan Walker composed a fine list of questions within an article posted this week, “Covid-19: Implications for Insurers.” :
    • How will we plug the service gaps that will arise if a large proportion of staff falls ill at the same time?
    • How long will remote working be required?
    • Do any of our product wordings need to be changed to deal with the return of Covid-19 in future years, or possible future pandemics? (author’s note- perhaps it’s time for parametric cover to take a leading role in dealing with effects of broad effect perils/covers)
    • Do we need to reduce our reliance on people being co-located… and the degree of “remote working as standard?
  • Rosenblatt Securities published a short analysis of the Implications of COVID-19 and Market Disruption on Private Fintech, and while the report included many important concepts, there was a historic treatment in graphical form of the Correlation of S&P performance and private capital investment in the U.S. that caught the author’s eye:


This chart from the 2008-10 market recovery period indicates a six-month lag between market recovery and investment level recovery; the current outbreak is of such broad spectrum and probable duration that investment recovery will take longer than that.  Consider the outbreak disruption to last several months and investment confidence to take an even longer period to come back, and strategy decisions made now are even more important than in 2008.

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50 Diverse Takeaways from Davos WEF2020


I am transparently stealing Ben Pring`s format[i] to honor the 50th anniversary of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, with my own 50 diverse takeaways. Some are my own big picture opinions from spending two intense full days in Davos and participating in two side events. Others are takeaways from the diverse speakers that I had the privilege to listen to. And some are my Tech innovation picks again from the events I participated.

  1. Great Greta Thunberg joined the status quo and is now confronted with all the difficulties that grown-up celebrities face. I am not supportive of this at all. I suggest `Leave the kid alone`, she has done enough already.
  2. The “Davos Manifesto” is clear and in alignment with Great Greta`s message. Businesses will continue to be the way we create wealth (of all kinds) but now all adults can role up their sleeves and look at ways to maximize Stakeholder value.
  3. Let’s pass on the torch that Great Greta held, to adult activists.


  1. The WEF was originally known as the European Management Forum and only 16 years later when it expanded its scope, was it renamed to WEF. Watch the WEF roadmap here.
    Efi Pylarinou is the founder of Efi Pylarinou Advisory and a Fintech/Blockchain influencer – No.3 influencer in the finance sector by Refinitiv Global Social Media 2019. You get 3 free articles on Daily Fintech. Get all our fresh content and our archives and participate in our forum, by becoming a member for just US$143 a year
  2. Even Davos was supportive of Greta. There was less snow and it was too warm. However, that did not reduce the number of men & women wearing light color fur coats and (women) bright color heavy makeup and hanging out on the sidewalks of the Promenade.
  3. Pop-up stores, as “corporate showrooms” on the Promenade are growing.
  4. Last year there were two Teslas showcased outside the Morozani hotel. Honestly, I expected to hop on a driverless car this year, but I was disappointed.
  5. Female dominated panels were all the rage. We were even got offered a special `Women in Fintech`trophy at TechParkDavos (amazing event).
  6. Background and geographic diversity in panels was also rising.
  7. For the first time, the balance of the agendas of the ever-growing Davos side events was greatly tilted towards Sustainability rather than Blockchain.
  8. During the two days in Davos, I did not hear 4IR once. The dominating themes were around ethical regulation of the technologies.
  9. WEF Davos is becoming more about social issues rather than businesses, which gives us hope for explicit and intentional innovation on the Societal front.
  10. Surprise on the Promenade: A “cannabis-tech” expo for the first time. No comment.
  11. Ben Pring says that `Wellness” advisors from Beverly Hills have started showing up in Davos. I did not see them. However, the Blockbase Davos space was really well attended. Linking spirituality, arts and technology. Worth visiting.
  12. WEF Davos was echoing with links between Ecology, Economy and Consciousness.
  13. Goldman Sachs`s announcement to no longer take any company public unless there is at least one diverse board member, was very in vogue with the Davos narrative. Maybe they will be the ones taking Ripple to IPO (an unexpected hint during Davos) as their board is really diverse.

Artificial Intelligence

  1. AI will have huge applications in the real economy. We humans will be training lots of micro-robots to perform tasks (micro-robot training).
  2. AI will have huge applications in optimizing transportation.
  3. Only 20% of large corporations have made a difference by using AI.
  4. 54 million people are wasting their time with jobs that AI data management can do better.
  5. “AI is going to become more and more accessible to everyone. It is not going to be only for the privileged neither controlled by the big companies.” says Jürgen Schmidhuber
  6. `X+AI will be the norm` says Ben Pring
  7. `Self-improving AI will change everything`says Jurgen Schmidhuber, founder of Nnaisense.
  8. #AI is like babies – they need lots of #Data, lots of #Information. They need their parents teaching them. AI needs us, humans” says Jurgen Schmidhuber
  9. Did we ask for this?: AI & IOT can help moms monitor whether their kids brush correctly their teeth
  10. Did we ask for this?: AI & IOT can help men & women apply moisturizer exactly on the areas that need it.


  1. The old adage `Location, location, location` is now transformed into `Availability, availability, availability` which means the power is in the accessibility and data.
  2. $4 trillion USD is spent by corporates every year to prepare data to be used by AI algos.
  3. Global Data Excellence is global leader in Data excellence management that maximizes business value with a clear focus on the social value mission.
  4. Trigyan offers an innovative data platform that is domain neutral to link data at scale and real-time – Glide (Graphically Linked Integrated)

Platforms are the only Sustainable business model (a pick of the ones I met in Davos during the WEF)

  1. Capital Markets: LoanBoox is a Swiss debt capital market platform digitizing capital markets for the municipality sector and eyeing much more.
  2. Banking: Pelerin is a blockchain-powered core banking operating system. No fractional reserve banking, rather a marketplace approach to digital assets.
  3. Digital ecosystem: The 1 billion retired people are a virtual continent that needs to be serviced accordingly. Dmitry Kaminskiy is the coauthor of the upcoming book Longevity Industry and covered tech in this the longevity space.
  4. Digital ecosystem: YesWeTrust is a Swiss-based unique ecosystem growing a community around health, sustainable investing, and a marketplace for sustainable consumption.
  5. Digital ecosystem: Beyond Animal is another Swiss-based unique ecosystem focused on the sustainable economy. A networking platform, a crowdfunding platform for sustainability business, and a AI-powered supply chain assistant.
  6. Digital ecosystem: Graypes is another Swiss AI-powered ecosystem that evaluates business ideas. Funds them and offers a network to grow them.
  7. Sovereignty: Liberland is a micronation powered by blockchain and other technologies that setup a rep office in Zug after the WEF.
  8. Ria Persad spoke at TechParkDavos: She is the founder of Statweather, a 10yr old award winning company providing state of the art weather prediction systems and risk mgt. She bootstrapped the company with stay home moms working part-time!
  9. NASA and Diversity: The NASA Artemis program, will send the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024, using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before. Cindy Chen spoke at Diversity in Blockchain about Artemis and the new female spacesuits.
  10. Data scientists: NASA Datanauts is a community for data newcomers, introducing and advancing data science skills, and creating a vibrant data problem-solving community.
  11. Edge technologies: Marco Tempest showed us a VR live application that combines science and illusion. A kind of camera that as you speak on stage, autonomously projects you in a VR enhanced way (a real-time transformation to a magical virtual world).
  12. The transformation via AI is leading the world from Automation to Autonomous; said Nicolai Waldstrom, CEO & Founder, VC BootstrapLabs
  13. Evan Luthra, is a truly native entrepreneur and angel investor, who has founded the ecosystem supporting people and innovative ventures.

Davos Events I attended or were on my list but never made it:

  1. Follow SwissCognitive – The Global AI Hub, the host of the TechParkDavos, and Yusuf Berkan Altun, the organiser of TechPark Conference Davos 2020.
  2. Follow Diversity in Blockchain and their sponsor BloomBloc who is focused on the sustainable supply chain for agriculture.
  3. Follow the World Innovation Economics events; a platform for sharing ideas, discussing and exploring ways to resolve real-world challenges using Innovations.
  4. The Digital Economist hosted the book launch of Bridgital Nation : Solving Technology’s People Problem co-authored by Natarajan Chandrasekaran and Roopa Purushothaman (Tata). A dream application of AI in India.
  5. The Digital Economist roundtable with MIT Professor Alex ‘Sandy’ Pentlandfocused on co-creating solutions to driving technological convergence into the new digital economy. Using the SDG framework to improve the state of the world through social entrepreneurship.
  6. The Prosperity Collaborative presented insights around building an efficient and fair taxation system by harnessing innovative technologies, hosted by GBBC. Alex `Sandy’ Pentland and John Werner and Tomicah Tillemann were involved.
  7. The Planetary Supernodes annual gathering (an invitation-only event) took place at Blockbase Davos. The mission is to energize and activate thriving projects of planetary impact that engender a sustainable future.

[i] Ben Pring leads Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work and is a co-author of the books What To Do When Machines Do Everything and Code Halos: How the Digital Lives of People, Things, and Organizations Are Changing the Rules of Business. – FIFTY THOUGHTS FROM DAVOS 50

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The InsurTechs were nestled all snug in their beds, with visions of 2020 dancing in their heads


It’s the end of 2019, an auspicious year for insurance and InsurTech, and it’s the end of the year with expectations in the business world for business results and (hopeful) bonuses.  And of course there is the wondrous shadow of December holidays over all, with visions of sugarplums dancing in heads.

Not everyone celebrates a Christmas holiday, Chanukah, or Eid, but one cannot avoid the end of year holiday gifting and hopes.

In keeping with that spirit this final InsurTech column for 2019 wishes all well for the season and bright things for 2020.

Patrick Kelahan is a CX, engineering & insurance professional, working with Insurers, Attorneys & Owners. He also serves the insurance and Fintech world as the ‘Insurance Elephant’.


There are some friends and businesses for whom its hoped that Santa/Father Christmas/whoever finds holiday gifts.  All deserving, all have been good this year.

  • Parametric insurance– better understanding within the industry of its opportunities for cover and dramatic growth
  • John Bachmann, Social Survey– more vowels so his customer experience video series can carry on into 2020
  • Zurich Insurance- Mark Budd and Nicola Cannings– full subscription for its innovation contest
  • Erika Kriszan– recognition as the founder of the quietest best InsurTech conference- MOI Vienna
  • IRDAI– prudence in choosing the twenty participants in the Indian insurance sandbox
  • Coverager– all the respect they deserve for keeping the insurance industry informed

Holidays – any holiday – are such a great opportunity to focus on bringing the family together.  Lidia Bastianich

  • Paolo Sironi– a platform to expose his finance and economics ‘chops’ to a broader audience
  • The Daily Fintech– continued recognition as a best-in-class Fintech/InsurTech/blockchain/crypto resource, and being seen as the best value within the respective blogs’ world
  • Michael Porpora– a project for 2020 that outdoes his 2019 365 days of connections
  • Robin Kiera– a championship for the Hamburg football team
  • Nomaan Bashir– 2% insurance cover penetration within the Pakistani market
  • Lloyd’s of London– a balance beam to help the venerable institution integrate business and org change into its 300-year-old club
  • Insurance Nerds– continued traction advocating for insurance and continuity of the many of are privileged to work in insurance jobs

The holiday season is a perfect time to reflect on our blessings and seek out ways to make life better for those around us. Terri Marshall 

  • Benekiva– beneficiary first in every life insurance company’s stocking
  • Ukrainian InsurTechs– realization that there are great things happening in the industry there that have nothing to do with global politics
  • Intellect SEEC– more storage capacity to hold all those data
  • The California Dept of Insurance– an understanding that best intentions can produce unintended consequences
  • Lemonade Insurance– markers of many colors to try as an alternative to magenta
  • Rahul Mather– rest.
  • Road Warriors– time at home

Merry Merry and Happy New Year.

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Gamification via a Fintech ecosystem wins a UN Global Climate Action Award

A 3yr old Corporate Social Responsibility – CSR – initiative that took a life of its own, has resulted in a 2019 UN Global Climate Action Award for Alipay AntForest App. A great example of gamification and network effects on an ecosystem like Alibaba. At launch, it was one of the many charity projects that […]

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Six diverse picks of Fintech shovels & Fintech stacks

The transformation of Financial services continues and re-bundling is one of the trends that is at work. Fintechs are collaborating and creating fuller stacks by bundling several services and growing their businesses. Six picks give you a picture of the diversity of this trend. Mambu is a leader in the Saas core banking sector. It […]

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