Our “before it is news, you can read about it on Daily Fintech” Retrospective of nearly 4 years of Insurtech insights on Daily Fintech

retro_l

We initiated our weekly Insurtech coverage on Daily Fintech with a post on 25 March 2015 entitled Not that many Insurtech startups – yet. This lede gets a high score nearly 4 years later:

“InsurTech is not as developed as other parts of the Fintech market. It feels more like Fintech around 2011, when a lot was happening but few people were observing what was happening.

InsurTech could develop at a faster pace because a lot of people who missed the rise of Fintech want to make sure they do not miss the next big market opportunity. The explosion of Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud (SMAC) technologies means that startups operating at the top of the stack – at the application layer – can often get tremendously rapid traction.”

Journalists in the UK like to keep the news cycle in perspective by saying “today’s paper will be tomorrow’s fish & chip wrapping” (translation, fish & chip takeaways in the UK were wrapped in newspaper).

Our mission at Daily Fintech is to anticipate the news cycle and sometimes we get it right and can make the claim that  “before it is news, you can read about it on Daily Fintech”.

The reason we can occasionally do this is because what we seek what investors seek – information that is both contrarian and true. Both need to be right for an insight to be valuable. In order to not get into NDA or Insider Trading hot water, the base data must be in the public domain.

For this retrospective I searched through the Insurtech archives to find more posts that meet that tough test:

The Jarvis Smart Helmet IOT Insurtech From Taiwan Is Another First The Rest Then The West Story.

Silicon Valley Gets Amazoned In Insurtech.

ReFocus The Life Insurance Conversation Around The Impending Longevity Change

How Blockchain Could Finally Enable The Vision Of User Controlled Electronic Health Records.

Blockchain Enabled Insurance Creating Waves In The Maritime Industry.

China Is The Global Insurtech Ecosystem Sandbox

Helping rather than replacing the Insurance Agent may be the #Insurtech game plan

Microinsurance Is Insurance For Emerging Customers And It’s A Huge Market Opportunity

Customer Onboarding Is An Easy UX Trick For Insurtech But Claims Processing Requires Some Hard AI Tech

We Interview Joe Taussig To Learn How Warren Buffet Uses Insurance And How You Can Copy Him

Strong User Authentication Could Enable Big Companies To Get Insurance From Cyber Crime.

Root Insurance And The Super Fast Unbundling Of The Insurance Stack.

There are nearly 200 Insurtech posts in our archives, so picking only 12 was tough.

TL:DR. Subscribe to get these insights as they get published every Thursday, so you can get ahead of the herd.

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Bernard Lunn is a Fintech deal-maker, investor, entrepreneur and advisor. He is the author of The Blockchain Economy and CEO of Daily Fintech.

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Listings Ledger offers valuation elixir for SMEs

Ask any small business owner raising money what the most non-transparent and contentious part of the process is, and they’ll most likely tell you it’s setting the valuation.

Navigating the valuation valley of death is more an art than a science, those who have traversed it will tell you – a rather ironic statement considering it’s a financial output. But like Mr Market and his infamous irrationality, valuations also have their own emotional drivers, often deeply disconnected from value.

But in a world of cloud accounting, discounted cash flow models and ‘AI’, does it have to be this way? Surely there is a rational panacea to all this hard thinking, competitor research, rumour and valuation innuendo founders have to grind through with investors and financiers?

Well, if the practical Scots have anything to do with it, a valuation elixir may be on the horizon for the weary founder community.

Listings Ledger, a spin out from the University of Strathclyde claims its patent pending real-time company valuation technology will help smaller firms access corporate finance by providing more transparency and rigour and less manual calculation. The platform crunches data from Companies House and stock market financial data to calculate an up-to-date valuation.

An on point, no-debate-to-be-had-here valuation is a big promise, and no doubt there is a lot more to the secret sauce than just what’s been talked about in a few press releases to date. For example, how are new companies that don’t have listed stock market peers treated, or private company competitor data analysed and factored? And, at the end of the day, isn’t price just a reflection of opinion – how is this accounted for?

Having both raised money to fund a business and used secondary markets for buying and selling unlisted shares in small companies before, there is no question that technology like what Listing Ledger proposes could go a long way in making it easier for parties on all sides of the financing table. But getting those involved to ‘buy’ into the process and put all their pre-conceptions aside about how a business should be valued may be the hardest thing of all.

Then again, I did read the Holy Grail itself is rumoured to reside in Scotland, so perhaps its birthplace gives Listings Ledgers all the location ‘edge’ it needs. Now that would make a great marketing campaign.

Daily Fintech Advisers provides strategic consulting to organizations with business and investment interests in Fintech. Jessica Ellerm is a thought leader specializing in Small Business and the Gig Economy and is the CEO and Co-Founder of Zuper, a new superannuation startup in Australia.

A world of #WhenBinance & #WhenSIX

Stock Exchanges are the fastest and most efficient data-processing large scale system that we humans have designed so far[1].

Stock exchanges need roughly 15minutes of trade to determine the effect of a piece of news – political, scientific, ecological, societal etc – on the prices of shares.



DLT technology may change this but the How is up in the air.

In Stock exchanges and listed assets  – Part I I looked at Nasdaq`s use cases. In this second part, I am sharing insights on the pulse of the securities markets as they reshaped and get pulled (down or up) by DLT technology. As mentioned in the Foreword of the SIX white paper The Future of the Securities Value Chain, one of the reasons to look into this topic is to sharpen our understanding of what the relevant future may look like and to seek feedback and open a conversation.

With DLT technology there will be a boom in what is tokenized or securitized in traditional parlance. There is no disagreement on this front, just on the degree maybe and the when. However, the devil is in the details as always. How will this happen?

If we all agree that there will be more securities out there, what will happen to Primary markets, Secondary markets and the post-trading processes? The 64page SIX white paper, describes eight possible scenarios with enough details – as they know how these markets operate currently – and in their Summary two pager they pick the two most likely ones. Of course, opinions will vary on the likeliness and this is where it gets interesting.

The way I see the world right now, is that

we have moved from #WhenMoon #WhenLambo to a world of #WhenBinance.

Even at LyCI online webinar presented by Richard Olsen, CEO of Lykke, the question of #WhenBinance for LyCI, was asked. Day traders and speculators naturally want listed assets but through the accelerated evolution of digital assets over the past two years, we have actually realized that investors also continue to attribute value to the listing of an asset. #AndTheIrony is that this signaling effect comes from the conventional investment culture and Not from the P2P progressive culture that Satoshi Nakamoto made technologically possible.

#AndTheIrony is that for now, both retail and institutional investors in the digital assets world perceive listing as a measure of fundamental quality. Whether it is about cryptocurrencies, utility and payment tokens, asset-backed coins (commodities, real estate, revenue sharing), security tokens etc. listing makes them more valuable.

The way we are plowing ahead to increase adoption of digital assets, we are consciously or unconsciously, making sure that LISTED ASSETS WILL CONTINUE TO BE THE DOMINANT STRUCTURE IN SECURITIES MARKETS.

In such a world, we could see growth in issuing marketplaces for digital assets of all sorts, but continuously tied to the new digital exchanges. As we speak there are several issuing marketplaces launched for digital assets: Securitize, TokenSoft, Neufund, Desico, Mobu, …. And more than needed exchanges to list these assets. At the same time, incumbents like SIX and Nasdaq, are building infrastructure to prepare for a position in the digital assets boom. Most, if not all, of these initiatives, will deploy permissioned central ledgers that deviate from the Satoshi Nakamoto core principals.

Right now we are heading straight into a future for securities that is based on permissioned central ledgers and in which listed securities remain the only way to unlock full value and then some. We will have reduced costs, reduced intermediaries, a larger pie of digital assets but we will have not changed this:

Exchanges will remain the fastest and most efficient data-processing large scale system that we humans have designed.

A Satoshi Nakamoto fully aligned world, is one in which exchanges disappear simply because listing does not add value. In such a world, all issuing marketplaces are open and not permissioned. Issuing becomes ubiquitous. Imagine a world in which either on Amazon or Wechat, even retail can issue a security or a token, and investors can directly access these. This requires to move Fintech crowdfunding venues like Angelist and Crowdcube, and P2P lending venues like Prosper and Lending Club, onto protocols like Harbor, Dharma, or Swarm. Then to get all large corporates (BMW, Johnson & Jonhson, ect) the software to issue and trade P2P within their ecosystems – i.e. DEX software. But before all this can happen, we need to solve the Digital Identity issue for both individuals and entities.

In a Satoshi Nakamoto fully aligned world, Exchanges become obsolete.

[1] The view of the Austrian school of economics

Efi Pylarinou is the founder of Efi Pylarinou Advisory and a Fintech/Blockchain influencer.

Get fresh daily insights from an amazing team of Fintech thought leaders around the world. Ride the Fintech wave by reading us daily in your email.

Blockchain Front Page: Can Regulation drive the next Bull Market?

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Last week our theme was “Security Tokens take center stage”

Our theme for this week is “Can Regulation drive the next Bull Market?

Bitcoin has been in the longest bear market in its 10-year history. In 2013, the crypto market had 410-day bear market, when the Bitcoin price dropped from around $1,100 to nearly $200.

bitcoinbearz-1.png

In 2017, cryptocurrencies experienced their greatest bull market ever. Bitcoin’s price surged from less than $1,000 to $20,000, while other major cryptocurrencies recorded 200x gains in the same 12-month period.

But in 2018 we saw a complete reversal, with bearish sentiment across the board and not just for Bitcoin. Investors in other cryptocurrencies, like Ethereum, and Ripple, also lost huge amounts. As a whole, the market lost 86% of its market cap, since its all-time high, causing many casualties and startups like ConsenSys, STEEM, Ethereum Classic, and NEM failing to achieve predicted returns.

The market was affected by regulatory news, mining and scaling difficulties. Investors that entered the market during the hype, recorded substantial losses in a short period of time.

While analysts and traders think the current bear market will continue throughout the first half of 2019, they expect the market to recover.

One piece of the news that makes me optimistic about the market’s recovery and for the future of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is that Bitcoin is fully or partially legalized in 111 countries.

Recently, Coin Dance reported that Bitcoin was legal in 111 out of 251 countries and it was only illegal in the following ten countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Pakistan, Qatar, Republic of Macedonia, Saudi Arabia, Vanuatu, and Vietnam. Still, there aren’t many countries that have legitimized Bitcoin by declaring it legal tender and only one to do it, is Japan.

The United States has taken a positive stance toward Bitcoin, to prevent or reduce Bitcoin use for illegal transactions. Yet, there is also plenty of confusion and uncertainty, whether cryptocurrencies will regulated by the federal government, by states, or by an agency such as the SEC. Individual US states seem to be in competition for the title of the most crypto-friendly. While the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) treats crypto as commodities, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) insists they are securities, the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) applies currency rules, and the Internal Revenue Service treats digital money as property.

While, the European Union (EU) has followed developments in cryptocurrency, it has not issued any official decision on legality, acceptance or regulation. In the absence of central guidance, individual EU countries have developed their own Bitcoin stances. A little over a month ago, two of the largest banking regulators within the European Union released reports calling for uniformity in the regulations of crypto assets and Initial Coin offerings (ICOs) across the continent. Germany is open to Bitcoin. While it’s considered legal, it is taxed differently, depending if you’re an exchange, miner, enterprise or user. The UK has a pro-Bitcoin stance and wants the regulatory environment to be supportive of the digital currency. In Cyprus, Bitcoin is not controlled or regulated and Malta has passed several laws crypto friendly laws.

In Japan, the Financial Services Agency, may have the best oversight on cryptocurrency exchanges, mandating increased security measures and suspending operations when necessary. The FSA has also created an industry study group for the cryptocurrency exchange industry.

South Korea is one of the largest crypto trading ecosystems in the world. In an effort to combat money laundering, in 2018 it banned anonymous trading and increased oversight on exchanges.

Australia considers Bitcoin a currency like any other and allows entities to trade, mine, or buy it and is not subject to double taxation. Currently they are debating a bill to apply AML to exchanges and prosecuting exchanges without a license.

China is perhaps the most famous example of a harsh cryptocurrency crackdown. Bitcoin is essentially banned in China. All banks and other financial institutions like payment processors are prohibited from transacting or dealing in Bitcoin. The nation’s authorities previously banned ICOs and cryptocurrency exchanges. In July 2018, state-run media in China reported that Bitcoin trading using the country’s national currency fell to less than 1% of the international total from a peak of more than 90 percent.

In Russia, Bitcoin is not regulated, and its use as payment for goods or services is illegal. The country’s financial regulator is working on cryptocurrency laws to protect individuals from cryptocurrency scams, while allowing businesses and individuals to work legally with cryptocurrencies.

Regulatory direction can give much needed certainty, help markets stabilize and drive wider participation, from investors that waiting on the sidelines because they fearful of the current levels of risk.

While we are seeing regulators around the world working on legal frameworks for crypto, the process is slow. The crypto market is down, because regulations are just beginning. Crypto’s greatest problem is also its greatest advantage: It’s brand new and everyone is trying to figure out how to regulate it. Once exchanges are standardized and offer more fiat on/off ramps, investors will be able to easily diversify their portfolios,  without worrying about losing everything at the sign of a bear.

For more about the Front Page Weekly CXO Briefing, please click here.

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Ilias Louis Hatzis is the Founder & CEO at Mercato Blockchain Corporation AG. He writes the Blockchain Weekly Front Page each Monday.

The Return of Crypto DeQuorum – JPMCoin the XRP Killer

After a busy day, I sat down to have a late lunch at 3 PM on Thursday, and I saw a Whatsapp message pop up – and I stood up from my chair saying “Ohhh Ehhmmm Geee”. That was my reaction when I heard about the news of the JPM Coin. Of all the banks, JP Morgan led by Jamie Dimon had to be the first mover to launch their asset backed crypto. It is less than 2 years since Jamie Dimon called Bitcoin a big fraud.

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Will this bring back some decorum into the crypto world? Will this kill Ripple’s XRP? My head is abuzz with all these questions, so bear with me as I manage/struggle to lay them out.

The crypto world can do with some positive news and sanity as there is a sense of the crypto winter coming to an end. As much as I loved to hear the news, and was glad for the crypto industry as a whole, I felt for some of the early adopters of the technology. There is a good chance that we will see a BarcCoin, CitiCoin, GSCoin, and so on, with similar working models. There is more than a chance that we will see some existing players disappear. Let us quickly visit the salient features of the JPM Coin model.

  • It will use the Quorum Blockchain developed by JPM. It provides for
    high speed and high throughput processing of private transactions within a permissioned group of known participants
  • It will be a stable coin, whose value will be always $1 USD – so market volatility linked with Cryptos is mitigated.
  • It will be used for wholesale payments that JP Morgan processes, estimated at ~$6 Trillion per day.
  • The network can be a private or even a centralised network permissioned by JPM.

With real time cross border B2B payments as the core use case, JPM Coin may create some challenges for Swift. Last year, Swift announced that its GPI technology that has had good feedback from its banking customers.
GPI technology that let banks see where their payments were at all times, and that came with rules around response and confirmation times.

However, the challenge for the newcomers (then) that kept Swift going was the mutual KYC requirement from the regulators, which was harder using a DLT payment mode. And GPI let banks see where their money was at all times. Assume a London based bank is sending money to a bank in Mumbai, there may be a couple of correspondent banks in between. The London bank can see where the money is, and stay on top of any delays, issues etc., They can also stay on top of the Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that the intermediaries offer.

With a crypto based approach, the transfer will be instantaneous without any need for correspondent banks as long as regulatory and relationship hurdles are overcome.

Ripple and XRP have had their challenges in gaining adoption from key banking players. One of the key reasons why cryptocurrencies couldn’t be used for cross border B2B payments is because of the market volatility of the cryptos. With a stablecoin like JPM Coin, that fundamental issue has been addressed.

Also, with the banking and corporate relationships that JPM commands, most of their counterparties would be better off being part of the network. The JPM’s interbank network has about 157 global banks, and adoption should be pretty quick once the piloting is successful. Although the underlying Quorum blockchain is based on Ethereum, it offers both private and public transactions capabilities. So banks and corporates on the network will have privacy if they choose/need it.

However, the real pain hits them (corporates) when a bunch of tier 1 banks launch their own stable coins. This space has just started to get interesting, and we should see an avalanche of similar offerings from global banks.


Arunkumar Krishnakumar is a Venture Capital investor at Green Shores Capital focusing on Inclusion and a podcast host.

Get fresh daily insights from an amazing team of Fintech thought leaders around the world. Ride the Fintech wave by reading us daily in your email


US Health Care: The $2.8 trillion opportunity

US health

 

Reposted from April 2018, as it is Chinese New Year for Zarc Gin, our regular Insurtech Expert based in China.

A couple of weeks ago, there were rumors of Walmart purchasing U.S. Health Insurer Humana.

I’ve written about the U.S. healthcare market a few times and thought this news was rather interesting.

As I started researching this topic,  I decided to take a look at the U.S. healthcare market a bit more broadly.  

During my research on Walmart and Humana, I uncovered some interesting facts and figures which help to further shape my opinion on the opportunities I see in the future of the U.S. healthcare industry.  

While the initial sections are numbers focused (be prepared for a lot of numerical data!), I do touch on technology as well later on.  

As such, I have structured this week as follows:

  • Getting a bigger slice of the $3,300,000,000,000 pie
  • What do all these (potential) mergers mean?
  • How Technology can help
  • Amazon vs. Walmart – which ‘category killer’ will it be?

Getting a bigger slice of the $3,300,000,000,000 pie

There have been a number of large potential mergers in the U.S. Health Insurance & healthcare space, including:

Albertsons and Rite Aid also happened this year which, according to this article, included 2,569 pharmacies (the other 1,932 of which were transferred to Walgreens as part of another deal.)

As I read more and more about these various deals, both qualitatively and quantitatively, it became more clear what was going on.  

And then, I read in this article, the following quote from Walgreens Chief Medical Officer Dr. Patrick Carroll:

Why not use those locations as a strategy for healthcare?

Then it all made sense.  Allow me to share.

According to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) National Health Expenditure Data (NHE), NHE grew 4.3% to $3.3 trillion in 2016, or $10,348 per person, and accounted for 17.9% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Healthcare expenses are $3.3 trillion in the U.S. alone.  That’s $3,300,000,000,000, folks.

I was curious as to what that $3.3 trillion broke down into, so I started digging deeper.  

Included in the CMS link above are tables that have a number of ways to analyze this expenditure data (24 different ways to be exact).  

If you are interested, please look for this link on the page:

Screen Shot 2018-04-16 at 4.17.39 PM

Table 4 in the Zip file had some really interesting data:

2016 NHE

Zooming in on that data, I found some even more interesting numbers:

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Of the $3.3 trillion being spent on Health related expenses, $2.8 trillion was being spent on Personal Health Care ($2,800,000,000,000).

That’s a lot of money.  

And of that $2.8 trillion, $2.2 trillion is being funded through Health Insurance.  

That doesn’t tell the whole picture though.

What do all these (potential) mergers mean?

In addition to the research I found above, I found some more stats which painted a much broader idea about the conclusions that I was beginning to draw.

US Health Insurer market share

According to Health Payer Intelligence, in 2016, the top 5 health insurers payers in the U.S. are:

  1. United Health Group – with $184.8bn in revenue and 70 million subscribers
  2. Anthem – $89.1bn in revenue and 39.9 million subscribers
  3. Aetna – $63.1bn in revenue and 23.1 million subscribers
  4. Humana – $54.3bn in revenue and 14.3 million subscribers
  5. Cigna – $39.7 bn in revenue and 15 million subscribers

With a population of 326m people in the US, these 5 companies have coverage for 162 million people (or 49.7% of the population).

Pharmacy market share

In terms of prescription revenues, the pharmacies in the US are split as follows:

Largest_US_Pharmacies_by_Total_Prescription_Revenues-2017

And in terms of number of pharmacies, the top 10 can be found here (according to SK&A Pharmacy Data):

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Pharmacy Benefit Manager market share

Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs), according to Wikipedia, are third party administrators that ‘are primarily responsible for developing and maintaining the formulary, contracting with pharmacies, negotiating discounts and rebates with drug manufacturers, and processing and paying prescription drug claims’ and ‘As of 2016, PBMs manage pharmacy benefits for 266 million Americans.’ (that’s managing the prescriptions for 81% of the population…)

According to Statista, in 2016, the market share is as follows:

Screen Shot 2018-04-16 at 6.57.03 PM

Pulling it all together

Looking back at the potential mergers mentioned in the first section, we have a high possibility of:

  • Walmart (#4 in terms of number of pharmacy locations and #5 in terms of total prescription revenue), partnering with Humana (#4 Health Insurer in terms of revenue and # of subscribers, and which also happens to be the 4th largest PBM).  
  • Aetna (#3 Health Insurer in terms of revenue and # of subscribers) partnering with CVS (#1 in terms of number of pharmacy locations, prescription revenue and the largest PBM)
  • Cigna (#5 Health Insurer in terms of revenue and # of subscribers) partnering with Express Scripts (#3 in terms of prescription revenue and the largest PBM, tied with CVS).

Not to mention the fact that United Health Group (#1 Health Insurer in terms of revenue and subscribers) owns Optum Rx (third largest PBM).  They have upped their health care presence in the past few years by buying MedExpress Urgent Care, which has 203 locations.

One may think that Anthem (#2 Health Insurer in terms of revenue and # of subscribers) is missing out, but maybe they have some benefits to sitting on the sidelines and it’s no wonder there is some chatter relating to potential antitrust violations within these deals.

If I look at all of these facts and figures, it looks like these companies are aiming to build mini ecosystems for their customers, in an effort to start getting a bigger piece of the $3.3 trillion mentioned before…most specifically, the $2.8 trillion being spent on personal health care.

After all, if these companies can offer it all ‘in-house’; meaning prescriptions, simple doctor visits through their in-store clinics and a mechanism to have it paid for through Insurance benefits, then consumers may only need to go to hospitals for specialist visits and more serious ailments.  This should ultimately lower the cost of health care, while also shifting some of that $2.8 trillion to some different hands.

How Technology can help

Technology will play a key role in enabling this to happen.

Ecosystems

In an article a few months ago, I wrote about what I thought CVS and Aetna could learn from Ping An, which I consider to be offering the ‘gold standard’ in terms of healthcare Ecosystems.

From that article, I analyzed the Online to Offline (O2O) capabilities within their Ecosystem:

Online through use of the Good Doctor app, a policyholder can:

  • Search for, and book doctors.  This can be either online consultations or in-person (i.e. offline)
  • Have an online consultation with a doctor
  • Purchase medicine
  • Get access to information about various health topics – either general or specific to me
  • Monitor their own health plan

Offline, Ping An has developed a network of hospitals, physicians, pharmacies and more, which will allow the policyholder access to services they can’t get through the online platform

All of these players are aligning the essential businesses in order to build these ecosystems. The Insurers already have relationships with the hospitals as well, which should help in bringing it all together.

IoT

Florian Graillot, Insurtech influencer and partner at astorya.vc recently wrote a great article in Coverager on Digital Health.  A few points he mentions:

  • Wearables – ‘Technology started to enter in our lives with several players developing wearables focused on fitness, sport and wellbeing.’
  • Data – ‘By trying to collect more customers’ data, they (insurers) hope to better understand their needs and increase the level of engagement they have with them by adding numerous touch points.’
  • Teleconsultation – ‘To increase number of touchpoints and offer additional services, teleconsultation is now a must-have for most of insurers and mutuals’
  • Data Privacy and sharing – ‘To better predict and prevent diseases, technology requires a huge amount of data to be relevant, and we see many startups monitoring behaviors on a real-time basis. This raises the first challenge for both insurers and startups: make people agree to share their personal data.’

Having more information on customers and being able to ‘track’ their health, will help to fuel the ecosystem.  This will enable all the participants in the value chain (doctors, pharmacies and Insurers) to know more about their customers on a real time basis, hopefully helping with more preventative measures and ultimately bring costs down.  As Florian states, ‘Insurers need to develop an ecosystem of technologies and startups around them to address their current challenges: increase number of touchpoints with customers ; understand behaviors to better prevent risks ; and reduce costs of healthcare.

I highly suggest reading the full article.  

Blockchain

Health Insurance probably has the most amount of data being transferred than other lines.  This is due to the numerous amounts of players involved in the process as well as the amount of information on a customer that can be available.

Further, Health Insurance data is the most personal of personal data.  

As such, something like blockchain, to help with the transfer and security of data seems like a solution that can help.

A Blockchain Health Alliance including Humana, Quest Diagnostics, Multiplan, and UnitedHealth Group’s Optum and UnitedHeathcare units has formed recently in an effort to ‘improve data quality and reduce administrative costs associated with changes to health care provider demographic data’.

Further, CB Insights has done a study on ‘5 Blockchain Startups Working To Transform Healthcare’.

Which ‘category killer’ will reign supreme (if at all)?

When it comes to ‘category killers’, two of the biggest and most famous are Walmart and Amazon.

We have been focused on Amazon coming into Insurance so much.  I wrote about this earlier this year, when Amazon, JP Morgan & Chase and Berkshire Hathaway teamed up to announce that they would be partnering on ways to address healthcare for their U.S. employees, with the aim of improving employee satisfaction and reducing costs.

I am still bullish on the prospects of this venture and I know Amazon knows a thing or two about building an ecosystem and how to use data.  However, the potential of Walmart buying Humana does have me very intrigued.

They have a massive head start to Amazon in terms of building their healthcare ecosystem.  After all, it was only 3.5 years ago that they announced the goal ‘To Be The Number One Healthcare Provider In The Industry’.  This includes:

Further, earlier this week, Walmart announced a redesign of its website and Amazon ‘put a pause on its plan to sell prescription drugs to hospitals’.

Summary

OK, are you still with me?  I know this has been a long article.

This topic interests me because it has been the single most mind-boggling item for me to deal with since moving back to the U.S.  I can’t believe how complex the system is here as well as how expensive it is.

It is really an area that needs a lot of help.

I know some of these mergers as well as Amazon’s foray into the larger picture of U.S. Health Insurance are still hypothetical.  However, they are important to monitor for the future of healthcare for people living in the U.S.

In addition to these events from the large Health Insurance incumbents and tech players, I also wouldn’t discount some of the work that Oscar are doing, as well as AXA, which has recently entered an agreement with Oscar and also acquired Maestro Health.

Now that I have looked at the breakdown of spending a bit more, I do believe the companies spearheading these large mergers are aiming to provide their customers with preventative measures, ‘offline’ one-stop shops (clinic plus pharmacies) and online facilities (teleconsulting and pharmacy refill/delivery).  

This will ultimately help them with getting a bigger piece of the $2.8 trillion.

Let’s hope all these efforts also help to reduce that actual dollar amount from a consumer spend perspective.

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Stephen Goldstein is an experienced Insurance executive and Insurtech dealmaker with a core focus on growing revenue, launching go to market initiatives and advising industry leaders.

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Nav on a mission to help SMEs navigate the valley of cash flow death

What does every human want when it comes to money, let alone every small business owner? Financial freedom, of course.

Freedom to have the ability to make decisions about your life, or your business, and not be beholden or limited by financial or information constraints.

Businesses like Nav, a SME focused financial management app that provides free access to credit reports, taps into this desire, handing back control on what is typically an opaque data point for a business, and which is often a limiting factor when it comes to accessing financing.

This week Nav secured $44.8 million in fresh funding from Goldman Sachs, Experian Ventures, Point72 Ventures, Aries, and CreditEase Fintech Investment Fund.

Since 2012, when the business was launched, the driving force of Nav has been a simple one – materially decrease the small business death rate. Mismanagement of cash flow is often the driver for this – studies point to over 80% of businesses citing poor cash flow management skills and a lack of understanding of cash flow as a failure reason. When the cash flow crunch hits – which it often does for many a small business – the only way out can be quick and timely financing. However quick and timely financing often comes down to how healthy that credit score is. It’s like ensuring your health insurance is up to date, just in case that ski accident leaves you in a plaster cast. Like insurance, your credit score is sort of like the one thing you have to have, that you hope you never need.

To date Nav claims it has helped over 400,000 businesses make better financial decisions and access capital. The company acts as a referral network for lending partners, and leverages affiliate and referral partners itself, to grow its base of SMEs.

Enabling financial freedom by making information available to the end user that changes the power dynamic, is a driving theme throughout all good fintech. If this was the only thesis you used as an investor, I’m of the firm belief you’ll be on the right side of returns, and history.

Nav is one example of this in action, and it’s clear these venture funds believe that thesis.

Daily Fintech Advisers provides strategic consulting to organizations with business and investment interests in Fintech. Jessica Ellerm is a thought leader specializing in Small Business and the Gig Economy and is the CEO and Co-Founder of Zuper, a new superannuation startup in Australia.

Margin lending with no Counterparty risk– the Dharma open source protocol

In November 2017[1], I spoke to Nadav Hollander in California, the founder of Dharma.io, who had just “graduated” from Y-combinator. At the time, he described his vision to create on the blockchain a tokenized marketplace for loans. In February 2018, the Dharma open source protocol went into alpha testing.

Developers could easily use the Dharma libraries to:

  • Allow would-be borrowers and lender to generate open loan requests for debt agreements of any kind
  • Allow lenders to fill loan requests, formalizing a lending agreement with a borrower
  • Allow users to manage their lending portfolio by making repayments, collecting collateral, trading their debt tokens, etc.
  • Earn fees by underwriting debt agreements generated by Dharma protocol
  • Earn fees by relaying debt agreements between borrowers and lenders

Source Hello, Dharma.js

Dharma didn’t ICO because Hollander believed that token models were very immature right now. Hollander says “I’d rather build a community of constituent users and, only if and when it makes sense, issue a protocol token.” For now, Dharma open source protocol has no native token, but each loan that is created is a token itself

Fast forward to today, February 2019, one year later and Dharma raised $7 million from big investors including Coinbase Ventures who naturally are interested in crypto lending markets, especially for traders. Dharma has already launched the Dharma Lever product (in alpha mode) that deploys smart contract’s to offer margin loans for crypto traders from high volume investors.

No counterparty risk (smart contract risk, since assets are held there).

Instantly, at very low cost.

Lower borrowing rates than centralized exchanges.

Compatible with all wallets.

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Dharma is in the same league as Maker – be your own bank or Defi[2] – that allow us to borrow against our Hodlings. Dharma involves no DAI and accommodates several cryptocurrencies beyond ETH. They are even looking to add WBTC soon which went live on Ethereum just last week.

WBTC – Wrapped Bitcoin is an ethereum-based token that is backed one-to-one by a regular bitcoin BTC.

It is already listed on several DEXs[3] including Radar Relay, Kyber Network, and AirSwap.

Dharma is changing the crypto lending space with their Lever offering that eliminates counterparty risk and replaces it with smart contract risk.

domino

The Dharma Lever is one way to mitigate systemic crisis due to the domino effect of counterparty failures.

[1] I introduced Dharma in my Feb 2018 post Bonds & loans on the Blockchain along with Tzero and Nivaura.

[2] Defi = Decentralized Finance, see more here.

[3] Read more about DEXs in `Are Decentralized Exchanges part oft he bottom up decentralized monetary policy?`

 

Efi Pylarinou is the founder of Efi Pylarinou Advisory and a Fintech/Blockchain influencer.

Get fresh daily insights from an amazing team of Fintech thought leaders around the world. Ride the Fintech wave by reading us daily in your email.

 

Blockchain Front Page: Security Tokens take center stage

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Last week our theme was “Lightning Network Gaining Traction”

Our theme for this week is “Security Tokens take center stage.

Despite the collapse of cryptocurrencies prices in 2018, dropping by more than 80%, for Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) was a good year. Indeed it was a very good year. We saw more money being raised by more projects.

According to a report published by ICOBench, in 2018, 2,517 ICOs raised $11.5 billion, a 13% increase, compared to 2017. The country leading the pack was Singapore with 228 ICOs, followed by the US with 195, the UK with 165, and Estonia with 112.

In 2017, we saw the rise of utility tokens. Utility tokens were meant to be used to access some kind of service or utility. When the ICO market took off, everyone was issuing some kind of utility token, sold during an ICO, that allowed users of a blockchain platform to pay with tokens for a decentralized service, or earn tokens for providing value to the ecosystem. Utility tokens are very similar to loyalty points, just like those given by credit cards.

Bloomberg’s Matt Levine compares utility tokens to the Starbucks card: “A Starbucks gift card is probably not a security, even though you pay money to a corporation for the card and expect to get back something in the future, because you are not investing the money in the expectation of profit: You’re investing it in the expectation of coffee.”

The fact is that backers of utility tokens are purchasers of a service, and not investors in it. There are many examples of utility tokens in the market. For example, BAT (Basic Attention Token) rewards users with tokens for using the BRAVE browser and viewing ads. Filecoin, which raised a record of $257 million with its ICO, provides a decentralized cloud storage service that takes advantage of unused computer hard drive space. Users that need storage, pay other users that provide storage with tokens.

But, we’ve been seeing the market shift, with “utility” being replaced by “security” and ICOs by STOs. The increase for tokenized securities has many saying that 2019 will be the the year of the STO.

Asset tokenization and security tokens are not a new idea. But with the ICO model crashing, STOs (Security Token Offerings) and security tokens have taken center stage. Security tokens have the potential to disrupt the way investors and securities issuers operate today.

Security tokens are digital, liquid assets, fractions of any real asset. Security tokens can be real estate, funds, equity in a company, derivatives, hotels, licensing, restaurant chains, anything with monetary value. A security token’s value is derived from a real, tradable asset. Security tokens can be used to grant ownership rights or shares of the company, to pay dividends, share profits, pay interest or invest in other tokens or assets to generate profits for the token holders.

We’ve been reading more and more news about STOs in the past months, as more companies are leaning towards launching an STO.

According to an article on MarketWatch, tZERO announced a partnership with Dinosaur Financial Group to facilitate customer trading for the tZERO tokens. In August, tZERO, the security token exchange arm of e-commerce and retail company Overstock, raised $134 million with its STO. tZERO issued to investors tokens in October with a three-month lockup and now the first trades of their security token are already happening.

In July 2018, SPIN an electric scooter company launched an STO to raise $125 million for its start-up. In September, the Malta Stock Exchange signed an agreement with Binance to launch a security token trading platform.

Various platforms have emerged to assist start-ups with their STOs, like StartEngine, Harbor, Polymath, Dusk Network, TokenSoft, Republic, and Atomic Capital.

The ecosystem of security tokens is in its early stage and there is a certain lack of legal practices. As security tokens are investment contracts, in most places around the world they are covered by securities laws. There are people who argue that cryptocurrency tokens are an entirely new asset class which deserve their own laws outside of the existing ones, but this is not reality, at least not as of now. For now, strict regulations concerning securities could pose obstacles, but they could also be a blessing in disguise, legitimizing security token offerings and ensuring compliance from the start.

Security tokens have the potential to attract additional capital from new investors who previously haven’t been interested in this kind of investment. STOs are projected to have a market cap of $10 trillion by 2020. Also, STOs and security tokens could prove to be the answer be the answer to the government’s woes, protecting investors and ensuring operations within the law.

STOs provide a more intelligent and innovative approach to capital funding that frees access to both investment and capital ways, while providing transparency to all of the services in question. The security token ecosystem could lead to the emergence of a new equity ecosystem separate from the public stock exchange, as security tokens allow for compliance, automation, and interoperability all across the securities stack.

For more about the Front Page Weekly CXO Briefing, please click here.

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Ilias Louis Hatzis is the Founder & CEO at Mercato Blockchain Corporation AG. He writes the Blockchain Weekly Front Page each Monday.

Open banking – Keep calm and saddle up for a five year run

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A year on – and that’s a big milestone for many. But in the legacy banking world, nothing gets done in a year. And it’s not surprising that open banking has been more of an introvert than we expected. Eventful or not, open banking is one of the best things that could have happened to consumers, and will eventually turn out to be a case study for other global economies to learn from.

Open banking is not just a movement to get banks to relinquish their ownership of consumer data. It is more of a data revolution to identify consumer behaviour and use data analytics to provide personalised services – not just banking services.

There are multiple stakeholders involved in the process of making the most of this data revolution. Getting a consolidated view of a customer’s financial products is perhaps a low hanging fruit.

For a consumer focused data driven use case, that is more integrated into their lifestyle, more work needs to be done on open banking data.

  • Downstream apps need to build their interfaces with banks that have opened up their APIs.
  • That will be followed by proprietary intelligence that these downstream apps will add.
  • Proprietary intelligence using machine learning, predictive analytics etc., need critical mass of data – which only builds over time. For this these firms will also need to onboard customers.
  • Customer onboarding is easily said than done – comes with serious cost of acquisition for a small firm – that happens when they have backing such initiatives from Venture capital.

Every step above takes time. It would be a few years before a real data driven use case can reach the customer and for us to start seeing some success stories. But where are banks largely, and where are the startups in the journey?

A year ago the Competitions and Market Authority (CMA) set the pace for a bunch of banks (9 of them) to open up customer data through APIs. And 12 months on, there is more noise about a lack of noise in this space. I don’t believe there is any action missing, and this is why.

Banks had to open up customer transaction data through APIs – but CMA only came up with this idea in 2016. For banks to get it, plan it, and execute the APIs within even 24 months was always an aggressive timeline. HSBC’s Connected Money app was perhaps an exception to the usual pace of banks. Barclays seems to have a similar capability as well.

However, the integration that legacy Banks have provided to downstream systems are not the most intuitive. APIs exposed by banks use apps like Yodlee (who create the plumbing for the data) who then integrate to downstream customer facing apps like Money Dashboard for example.

One quick look at the apps show that the the experience offered by legacy banks to integrate into a customer facing app are so outdated. Especially for a customer segment that are used to a frictionless Monzo like experience. That is an area where banks can definitely do better. However, most Millennials and Generation Z customers directly bank with neo-banks, so this will be less of an issue with that customer segment.

Startups are still building the intelligence to make the most of the data revolution. However, most firms that I know of that are looking to provide PFM services, lending (underwriting, brokering or credit scoring), SME loyalty, or simply cleverer product switching, are all focused on growing their customer base in search of more data volumes.

Most of the clever applications need machine learning algorithms to feed on a lot of high quality customer data. That is when their results get accurate as the machine learns from continuous feedback. Releasing half trained machine learning apps to consumers can actually result in poor customer experience and churn.

Most firms I speak to, are focused on identifying product market fit for their data driven use case this year.

Customer acquisition has to be cleverly managed to ensure there is growth in data volumes, but also the predictive analytics is accurate enough to cut down churn. Its a hard game to play.

In a recent interview Tom Blomfield, CEO of Monzo mentioned that he wasn’t afraid of legacy banks or even the Neo-banks. But he was wary of new open banking powered apps just bringing clever capabilities and acquiring customers to dwarf the likes of Monzo. Open banking will be a slow burner, it would have failed if we didn’t see some success stories in the next 5 years.


Arunkumar Krishnakumar is a Venture Capital investor at Green Shores Capital focusing on Inclusion and a podcast host.

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