Regtech Rising – How far are we from Robo Regulators?

Since the AI boom, there have been several stories about people losing jobs. Repetitive jobs are the ones that are most suited for robots to take over. So would there be a time when we get to tell the Regulators “You are Fired”?

Regtech had a phenomenal year 2017, with global funding reaching $1.1 Billion across 81 deals. And the first half of 2018 alone saw funding go past $1.3 Billion across 36 investment deals (KPMG Research). Thanks to an avalanche of regulations that banks had to comply with from PSD2, GDPR, MiFID2.

KPMG Research

Since the 2008 financial crisis, banks have paid $321 BILLION in fines

 CB Insights

The SEC allocated $1.78 Billion to employ 4870 who were making sure Banks were compliant. Now, with the rise of AI across the regulatory value chain, the efficiencies to be had are immense with intelligent automation. 

With an ocean of regulatory text to go through, and with several regulatory alerts to monitor on a regular basis, AI would be the way forward. I remember my Barclays days when there were several vendors claiming to make regulatory reporting easier through a workflow solution.

And why AI Can Help

When I was at PwC, we started exploring solutions like IBM Watson for regulatory and legal language parsing. Regtechs were getting more and more intelligent, and with the amount of capital that was flowing into this space, they had to. Thanks to those efforts, there are several players to proactively identify and predict risks.

As more innovation happens in this space, ease of use moves on to automation, and automation to intelligent automation. We also have started to see regulation specific solutions. Many of them existed in their simplistic form before, but they now come with better technology. Open banking has had a few focused Regtech solution providers like Railsbank. Droit provides post trade reporting for OTC transactions as per MiFID 2.

The SEC’s proposed 2017 budget is $1.78 BILLION

 CB Insights

This trend can further go up the value chain, and apart from serving banks, technology could serve regulators. Regulators have to parse through tonnes of data, use pattern recognition, NLP and predictive analytics to identify breaches proactively. Regulatory sandboxes help, and with more innovative firms looking at automating regulatory activities, Robo-regulators are not far away.


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

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Insurtech Front Page Weekly CXO Briefing – Incumbents on customer engagement

Service Satisfaction Indicator

The Theme last week was InsurTech Upstarts at the Gate.

The Theme this week is incumbents exploring better customer engagement. Customer engagement can be improved with the combination of technologies and a human touch.

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

Incumbents embracing InsurTech is a common theme in our posts. This time, it’s about customer engagement.

Story 1: Humania Assurance Launches 5575

Extract, read more on Coverage:

“Humania Assurance has introduced a new portfolio of online health insurance products tailored for Canadians aged 55 to 75 years old.

“When retiring and leaving their workplace, this population loses its group insurance advantages. It is then difficult for these people to cover all expenses relating to their health. This portfolio of products will allow them to reduce their financial stress and focus on taking care of their recovery.” – VP Sales and Marketing, Kim Oliphant.”

A gentle gesture to care for the elderly. Efficiency can be improved by technology, but the warmth of insurance still need to be delivered with a human touch.

Story 2: Chubb Life Launches New Digital Platform to Enhance Customer Experience

Extract, read more on Chubb media room:

“Chubb Life Insurance Indonesia (Chubb Life) has today launched an online platform called Chubb Life Customer Corner as part of its ongoing commitment to putting customers first and providing them with the best customer experience, anywhere and anytime.

Kumaran Chinan, Chubb Life COO said, ‘We are proud to launch the Chubb Life Customer Corner which will make it faster and more convenient for our customers to access important policy information, including the latest claims information, anywhere and anytime they choose to.’”

Insurance penetration rate is still low in Indonesia, and the Internet-savvy youths will soon become a major purchasing force of life insurance in next 5 years. Selling it in a digital way can help Chubb become the first insurer for many young users in Indonesia.

Story 3: Aviva aims to disrupt the market with new subscription-style product

Extract, read more on Insurance Age:

“Aviva has launched a subscription-style insurance product, which it said was designed to address consumer concerns with the industry such as dual pricing.

AvivaPlus is initially a direct product, which the provider stated offers flexible cover, monthly payments with no APR, no charges to cancel or change the policy and a renewal price guarantee.

It is available for home and car insurance, but Aviva noted that it was looking to extend it to more product lines in the future.”

Dual price happens when there is a lack of direct channels. Technology certainly can play a big role in building channels.

Engagement is about building trusts. By caring for the elderly, launching online platforms and addressing information asymmetry, incumbents are making friendly gestures.

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Zarc Gin is an analyst for Warp Speed Fintech, a Fintech, especially InsurTech-focused Venture Capital based in China.

Check out our advisory services(how we pay for this free original research).

To schedule an hour of Zarc’s time for CHF380 please click here to send an email.

 

Aussie fintech Douugh rises up to the algo challenge

Most of us consciously know there are certain environmental or external triggers that cause us to spend more and save less. If you’re me, you never go to the supermarket hungry – very strange purchases can happen.

What most people don’t realise, is that as we live more and more of our lives online, we are increasingly vulnerable to algorithms designed to part us with our money by amplifying those very same triggers sub-consciously.

For those of us who are aware, we’ve noticed some seriously creepy behaviour of late. Put your hand up if recently you’ve experienced seeing an online ad for something you hand over heart are sure you’ve only ever thought about silently in your head?

Now faced with seemingly telepathic algos, not to mention the standard bread and butter stuff, it’s starting to get pretty ridiculous to expect me, or anyone for that matter, with one brain at their disposal, to manage their finances. You and I can’t possibly compete.

The first generation of PFM apps did try to provide a line of defence. But spend categorisation and budgeting is now akin to bringing a knife to a gun fight. It’s time for the bots to fight it out.

Australian startup Douugh is one fintech startup taking on the challenge. Douugh’s AI powered personal financial assistant Sophie wants to one day become a ‘financial control centre’ for its users. To put financial management on ‘autopilot’. Considering most of our online spending is being driven by Facebook and Google’s ‘autopilot’ algorithms, the concept of Sophie certainly feels like it will even the playing field.

This week Douugh announced it had secured a partnership with Mastercard. The news comes as the local startup revs up its pre-IPO crowdfunding campaign, with listing plans slated for 2019, subject to approvals. The company will launch first in the US, through a partnership with mutual bank Choice.

Apps like Douugh are the antidotes we need to cure the spending behaviours we don’t even know are being triggered. Who knows – maybe we’ll be able to diagnose financial diseases in the future, and some of these algorithms will be viewed akin to the tobacco industry. It certainly is a brave new world.

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.

Marketplaces and gateways for financial advisors – Schwab’s approach

I’ve been a fan of  Bill Winterberg and his FPPad channel. If Alexa is in your Christmas shopping cart, you should know that Bill is on Alexa for you to listen while putting on makeup or shaving in the morning. Just say “Alexa, enable FPPad”.

In early November, Bill covered the Impact2018 annual event by Schwab for advisors. The Schwab Intelligent Portfolios, the infamous Schwab Robo-advisor, that we have covered on DailyFintech from the start of the robo movement, is not what was the focus at Impact2018. This is an annual event for advisors who are being empowered by brokers, custodians, tech companies, asset managers, and banks.  The sponsor of the Impact2018 FPPad interviews was Envestnet | Tamarac. As a side note (not an insignificant one) Blackrock invested in Envestnet by acquiring 4.9% of shares. The world’s largest asset manager buying a piece of one of the largest adviser technology providers. Add to that that Blackrock owns another 5% through its passive financial products.

 Charles Schwab in a way has it all. For the 100% DIY investor, there is Schwab’s brokerage arm and the free robo service (continuously criticized for the high cash allocation). In the middle, there is an automated investing management offering with a free personal finance guidance (with financial advisors) with only a $5,000 minimum balance requirement. And at the other end of the spectrum, a rich and improving marketplace for in-house (using Schwab as a custodian) and third-party advisors.   

Andrew Salesky is a 20yr Schwab veteran that now runs the Digital Advisor Solutions at Schwab. His vision is to transform Schwab into a Digital Services organization. He is focused on serving and empowering financial advisors, both those in-house but also with third parties in the Advisory space.

Schwab scores high when benchmarked as a Digital Services organization, for the in-house custodied part of the business.

First and foremost, they have mastered the Digital Account opening, which is now a completely paperless workflow for advisors which takes 5min to open an account (regular account, pension, or charitable). This electronic authorization, itself gives the end customer a great experience. The first impression always creates a predisposition, and Schwab has its advisors back covered in 80% of account opening cases. The remaining 20% is the so-called NIGO (Not in good order), which means incomplete or incorrectly filled applications; and Schwab is tackling this business opportunity by experimenting with technology that can serve electronically advisors’ customers in this case.

Second, the Schwab Advisor Portfolio Connect, is an all-in-one solution at no fee, that is simple and efficient. Its main advantage is an operationally efficient portfolio management solution. The magic happens behind the scenes, taking advantage of ‘custodial data direct’. Advisors using this service don’t need end of day downloads and reconciliations and creating performance reports, billing and other crucial reports because all is completely automated.

On top of these digital capabilities for all Schwab advisors, the Digital Advisors Solutions department is strategically positioning Schwab as a Marketplace and a Gateway for third party advisors. This is multifaceted.

First is the MarketSquare. I love the name by the way. It feels like Piazza San Marco or some such. Schwab advisors can research technology vendors and products to help them make better-informed buying decisions, see product ratings and reviews from peer advisors, who understand the specific needs of independent advisors. The MarketSquare is creating an advisor community and tech vendors compete for their attention.

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 Second is the OpenView Gateway: Third party advisors can enjoy secure, high-quality integrations, for example with Orion, Salesforce, Addepar, and at same time have access to Schwab data. These integrations combine the best of Schwab and third-party capabilities and include many of the major technology tools firms depend on, including CRM, portfolio management, financial planning, trading & rebalancing, risk analysis, and more.

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Several other tech vendors are in the pipeline to be listed on the OpenView Gateway. Advyzon a provider of CRM solutions, client reporting, billing, document management, and a client portal; and LifeYield allows advisors to get their ‘Taxficient Score’ for all their clients to measure their tax efficiency.  Reports can be shared directly with the clients to show where they are adding value.

 

Last week I took a look at Morgan Stanley’s “WealthDesk” rollout for its advisors which is an integration of Morgan Stanley’s Goal Planning System. In Incumbent Robo-advice platforms, software, products: A look through Morgan Stanley’s WealthDesk platform I highlighted the Machine learning support through “Next Best Action” tool.

Schwab’s approach is very different that Morgan Stanley’s. “WealthDesk” is the integrated toolbox that MS advisors operate their business on. Schwab allows for 3rd party advisors and in-house advisors more choices of vendors and in that respect each advisor can tailor their toolbox differently. The “WealthDesk” toolbox is not available for 3rd party advisors.

MS is focused on empowering and retaining its current advisory network of 16,000 advisors. Schwab is increasing its outreach through a marketplace approach that if successful, can become the app store for tech targeting advisors (with genius capability and a community tying them together).

The end customer will decide of course; Financial advisors are being served through Fintech vendors that offer them dazzling choices. The platform that can help advisors make smart choices for their toolbox, will be the winner.

MS claims that their integration is ahead of the curve. Schwab positions itself as hub that filters tech vendors continuously and offers integration a la carte plus peer reviews.

Stay tuned.

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 Weekly Front Page: The Action in China

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Last week our theme was “Legacy Finance, Big Tech and Government move into Blockchain.”

Our theme for this week is “The Action in China

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

In September 2017, the Chinese government banned ICOs, and a year later it banned crypto entirely. Everything related to crypto trading and investment has been banned, including news sites, social media accounts, events, and exchanges. In July, the Central Bank of China reported that the country’s cryptocurrency ban has been very successful, reducing Yuan trading activity to less than 1%, when it once accounted for more than 90% of global trading volume.

But can China continue to innovate in this space, while it has imposed a cryptocurrency ban?

Yes it can and it does.

At the end of March 2018, China had a total of 456 blockchain companies, which included security services, investment and financing, media and human resources services, platform services, hardware manufacturing, and industrial technology application services.

While protocols like Lightning Network and Tumblebit attempt to solve the Bitcoin scaling problems, Conflux, a Chinese company, claims to have solved the network’s speed limitations.

Conflux is a new protocol led by a group of professors, that counts among their ranks Andrew Yao, a recipient of the Turing Award, known as China’s “Godfather of Computer Science.” Conflux raised $35 million from notable investors, that include Sequoia China, Metastable, IMO Ventures, FreesFund, Rong 360, Shunwei Capital, F2Pool, and major crypto exchange Huobi.

Conflux is a fast, scalable and decentralized blockchain protocol that process concurrent blocks, without discarding any as forks. Conflux achieves a transaction throughput of 6,400 transactions per second, for typical Bitcoin transactions.

Conflux’s co-founder Fan Long, a University of Toronto professor, told Fortune“Conflux’s main idea is how to make the whole blockchain scalable. We’ve changed the structure of the blockchain so that it’s no longer a chain in the sense that it records each block based on what its parent block says.”

Another project out of China is led by Chinese cryptocurrency billionaire Li Xiaolai, known in China as a “Bitcoin evangelist.” He’s developing a new stablecoin that is expected to roll out in 2019. The project will operate within Hong Kong blockchain fund, Grandshores Technology. The upcoming stablecoin won’t be attached to the Chinese Yuan, instead it will follow the Japanese Yen.

Huawei, the Chinese tech giant and the world’s second largest smartphone maker, announced the launch of its Blockchain Service (BCS), in an official press release. Huawei’s new service solves many problems businesses face, when deploying a blockchain. The service allows entrepreneurs and developers around the world to create, deploy and manage blockchain applications on Huawei Cloud, at a blistering pace and cheaper cost.

Chinese mining companies are the undisputed global leaders, controlling more than 74% of the Bitcoin network’s hash rate. According to data from Genome, the PBoC has filed 41 blockchain patents. Chinese companies occupy six of the top ten spots for blockchain patents, with Alibaba filing 90 patents.

China is committed to blockchain innovation, doubling down on its $3 billion investment in the blockchain technology since the second quarter of 2018. Yet it’s ironic that Chinese citizens don’t have direct access to investment. Its decision to ban everything Bitcoin seems odd on the surface, but China wants to assert itself as a technology leader and blockchain, may be one way to do it.

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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.

Announcing Zarc Gin, our man in China, joining the Daily Fintech Expert Service

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Each week we are adding a new Expert to the Daily Fintech Expert Service.

Our Experts work all over the world, giving Daily Fintech a global perspective.

This week we profile our Expert in China, Zarc Gin, who works for a Fintech, Insurtech and Blockchain focussed VC fund in Hangzhou, China.

China is not only a massive market. It is also a market that operates quite differently from the West, because it went straight to the digital and mobile age.

Zarc is the person to talk to if you want to:

– learn from what is happening in China to apply to your home markets.

– think about how to enter the China market.

Now you get a chance to talk to somebody who lives in China and who knows Fintech, Insurtech and Blockchain for only CHF 380 per hour.

For more on Zarc, please go here.

To book an hour with Zarc, please click here to send him an email.

Eeyore and Tigger debate the great Institutional wall of money into Blockchain meme

eeyore

“May you live in interesting times” applies to today’s era which is turbulent on every plane –  financial, technical, social, political. If Blockchain is real and can deliver value it has plenty of problems to solve. That much I am sure about. 

Deep in a bear market, capitulation means most people are giving up on Blockchain, Bitcoin & Cryptocurrencies. The Tigger optimists often talk about the great Institutional wall of money moving into Blockchain as evidence that the next bull market is coming.

As an entrepreneur I tend to be a Tigger type of optimist. However there are many things I am not sure about and as an entrepreneur I also know that hope is not a strategy and it is valuable to listen the Eeyore type pessimists; dealing with their objections defines your action list. In this post, I outline:

  • What I am sure about aka strong opinions.
  • What I think is likely aka weak opinions.
  • What I am not sure about aka what I want to learn.

Note: When I say Blockchain I mean Blockchain AND Bitcoin AND other stateless, permissionless Cryptocurrencies. It is very easy for even the most conservative Eeyore types to laud the value of Blockchain without the addition of a stateless, permissionless currency like Bitcoin that is so disruptive. That would be an easy way to embrace and bury disruptive change. Pretty quickly we would move to permissioned Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) from an enterprise software company that is totally controlled by Institutions. That would be as disruptive as the latest version release of an ERP system.

What I am sure about

  • The Blockchain wave of change is unstoppable. Call this an opinion not an irrefutable fact, but it is a strongly held opinion based on two observations in the real world:
      • Blockchain does work technically. After 10 years, there is very little doubt about this.
      • The current Legacy Finance system is broken. Just ask anybody who went through the Global Financial Crisis 10 years ago if you doubt this.
  • I am also sure that the strongly held opinions about this wave of change from both the Tigger and Eeyore types are almost entirely based on how that person’s financial interests are impacted. If you have done well in Legacy Finance, you take the Eeyore side of the debate; Bitcoin will not be good for business. If you bought early into Blockchain, Bitcoin & Cryptocurrencies, you take the Tigger side of the debate; your investments will do very, very well. This leaves the vast majority of the world, who have not done well in either case, unsure about who is right.
  • I am also sure that the market will decide whether Eeyore or Tigger is right. For Pooh Bear fans, this humble “bear of little brain” is the market. 

What I think is likely.

  • Institutions will invest in Blockchain, Bitcoin & Cryptocurrencies.  I think the great Institutional wall of money into Blockchain meme is for real. Those Institutions are reading the same market signals and see opportunity and know that “disrupt before you are disrupted” favors the early movers. These Institutions compete with each other. They don’t want to be the Blockbuster/Kodak of this era.  All those conservative Legacy Finance Institutions will make some careful, hedged bets that will in aggregate ensure that the next bull market happens.

 

  • There will be another bull market. I have no clue when it will start, or how big it will be; actually I know for a fact that BTCUSD will hit $1.3 million on 15 January 2025 at 11am CET!  I simply think another bull market will happen because that is what always happens with disruptive waves of change. There is no certainty on this, but investing is a statistical probability game and the statistical odds favour another bull market.

 

  • The retail speculators who got burned in the last boom and bust won’t do anything in the next bull market. This is not because they don’t want to, simply because they have no money left to invest. Sadly most who invested during the great 2017 meltup got wiped out during the 2018 bear market.

 

  • There are few techie early adopters who will invest in the next bull market. That game was what got Bitcoin into the market in 2010 to 2012 and Ethereum into the market in 2014 to 2015. Those were dirt cheap bets on crazy high risk deals. Why not take a risk if the cost is not much more than the cost of a couple of pizzas? Prices today, even in this bear market are still too high for that game. These techie early adopters will Hodl no matter how low we go, because their cost base is so low, but that does not mean they will lead the next bull run.
  • So the market needs a new breed of investor. That is why the great Institutional wall of money moving into Blockchain meme is so appealing to the Tiggers of the world.
  • Institutional Investors will come into the market. When they come in and in what volume is unknown, but I believe that the raft of PR announcements by the biggest Legacy Finance Institutions means that they will enter the market. Reputation is as valuable as cash and they have already put their reputation on the line.

What I am not sure about

The mantra of any good investor or any good journalist and of the Experts who write on the Daily Fintech platform is to aim to be a “learn it all, not a know it all”. The more you know, the more it becomes apparent what you don’t know; the search for what is true is never-ending. The best role of an Advisor is often simply asking good questions. Here are my questions about the great Institutional wall of money moving into Blockchain:

  • When will it happen? I cannot put a date on it, but I am confident that price is not the major issue. Institutional Investors know the Wall Street mantra that “bulls and bears have their day, but pigs always get slaughtered”. This translates into knowing that it is silly to try and enter or exit at precisely the bottom or the top; near the bottom or near the top is good enough. What I am am not sure about is when the market will deliver the two features that institutions demand:
      • Custody. Asset security is a major issue with bearer bonds. This is particularly  true if hundreds of traders have access to the keys of the safe. The Private Key security of Blockchain is OK for nerdy individual investors, but less so for big Institutions or for mainstream retail investors. That is why Institutional grade Custody is such a big opportunity.
      • Liquidity/price discovery. Liquidity/price discovery is a tough problem to solve in a decentralised network; and Institutions understand that this market will evolve quickly into a decentralised network.

From PR announcements you might think both are close, but the devil/god is in the details. We know this from our Advisory Services,where we are known for combining big picture  vision with  pragmatic executionInstitutions won’t commit in volume until the details are resolved.

  • Will the Institutional  phase be short lived like the Intranet phase of the Centralised Internet? Disruptive change often goes through a Corporate phase. Before companies like Amazon, Google and Facebook brought the Internet to the mainstream consumer, we had the Intranet era (closed, permissioned versions of the Internet). That was short-lived. Will the the great Institutional wall of money moving into Blockchain follow the same trajectory?
  • What sort Institutions will invest in Blockchain and why? There are three types of Institutions moving into Blockchain and they have fundamentally different strategies and objectives
      • Type 1:  Buy Side Direct. Those retail investors (derided as “muppets” by the Institutional smart money) are Buy Side Direct. The problem is they invest tiny sums. Family Offices, controlling about $2.6 trillion of global assets, are like retail investors on steroids; they invest their own money. Whether you call them Institutional or not is language issue only; they invest like Institutions and with Institutions.
      • Type 2: Buy Side Intermediaries. These include hedge funds, sovereign wealth funds, pension funds etc. They tend to be more conservative than Buy Side Direct because they have “explanation risk”. If they take a contrarian bet and it goes wrong they have a lot of explaining to do
      • Type 3: Sell Side. These include brokers, exchanges, Investment Banks ie classic “Wall Street”. They want business from Types 1 and 2. If the Sell Side see evidence that Types 1 and 2 want to get into Blockchain, they will invest to service that demand.

What I think is that the great Institutional wall of money moving into Blockchain will start with Family Offices. If they allocate 1% of that $2.6 trillion they control it will a) bring $26 billion into the market and b) that will bring the much bigger capital pools from Type 2 into the market

If you work in a big Institution and need some help figuring this out from a learning coach (somebody who knows Blockchain from all angles and is good at explaining it), check out our Book An Expert For An Hour service.

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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.

Check out our advisory services (how we pay for this free original research). To schedule an hour of Bernard’s time please click here to send an email

Thrive for Fintech, “shout out” for innovative firms solving real problems

This week saw the launch of “Thrive for Fintech”, an investment programme focused on Financial Inclusion. Green Shores Capital (my fund) have partnered with Crowdcube for this and it is sponsored by Deloitte. The applicants will be funnelled through a competitive evaluation criteria and six of them will be shortlisted. Via this initiative, we will identify and invest in up to three top Fintech firms.

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This is the programme page, that talks about the criteria in detail

“Successful applicants will also receive a legal support package to cover areas such as company structure, employment and incentives, data and IP, as well as receiving exclusive access to an online platform with a host of free legal resources. All finalists will also be invited along to a legal workshop that is specifically tailored to Fintech businesses.

Lastly, the successful applicants will also receive an accounting support package from Deloitte finance experts, covering areas such as raising investment and financial strategy. Along with a free, bespoke online accounting package and customised analytics dashboard.”

So how did this happen?

All three partners at Green Shores, Deepak Ahuja, Banesh Prabhu and yours truly, have all had decades of Financial services experience. We have had years of global exposure and have seen real world challenges especially in Emerging markets due to lack of Financial Services at the last mile. When we set up Green Shores earlier this year, we identified Financial Inclusion as a core theme for our investment thesis.  

We have made several investments through our previous fund in this space and want to further this cause via Green Shores. This was and is critical as many use cases we see in the UK and in the west are focused on impactful themes, however in order to create impact at scale they need to expand into emerging markets. 2.7 Billion people in the world live outside the conventional financial services system.

This programme also demonstrates that its critical to bring together multiple ecosystem players to create meaningful impact. And we believe, this is a model that can be replicated across different innovation clusters where there is a dire need for capital.

Access to capital is not a goal in itself – it is a means to end poverty and economically empower people – the first step towards achieving healthcare and education, a means to help grow enterprises and create jobs, a means to tackle unemployment, and so much more. 


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


Insurtech Front Page Weekly CXO Briefing – InsurTech Upstarts at the Gate

Isometric Healthcare and technology concept banner. Medical exams and online consultation concept. Medicine. Vector illustration.

The Theme last week was China opening up its insurance market.

The Theme this week is InsurTech Upstarts at the Gate. The end of 2018 is coming. In the past we have often covered the moves from the big Insurance and Reinsurance Incumbents, who have been surprisingly agile and innovative given their size and legacy. This week we cover the moves by the VC funded startups.  

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

For this week we bring you three stories illustrating the theme of InsurTech Upstarts at the Gate.

There was a lot of important Insurtech news to process this month. There were  many fund raising deals that did not make our constraint of 3 stories per week. These include Clyde raising $3m, MioAssicuratore $1.7m, Corvus $10m and ELEMENT $26m.

The three stories that were most significant were:

Story 1: Insurtechs launch new UK body

Extract, read more on Insurance Times:

“A group of 31 companies have banded together to launch InsurTech UK.

The core aim of the group is to support the UK insurtech sector and promote the benefits of insurtech.

The group held its inaugural meeting on Wednesday, with 20 members in attendance for the launch.

Members include Anorak; Azur; Bikmo; Bought By Many; Buzzmove; Canopy; Claim Technology; Concirrus; CoVi Analytics; Drover; Equipseme; Floodflash; Hokodo; Honcho; Kasko; Konsileo; Laka; Marmalade; Meet Sherpa; Urban Jungle; Pluto; Polaris; PolicyCastle; Shepherd; So-sure; Tapoly; Track My Risks; Worry and Peace; Wrisk Yulife.”

UK has always been a major market for insurance with numerous renowned insurers. But when it comes to InsurTech, it seems a little behind, not only in global but also in Europe. With startups forming up a union, maybe we can expect a super InsurTech force in UK in next a few years.

Story 2: Insurtech Oyster Opens up Its Pay-as-You-Go Workers’ Comp Model in California

Extract, read more on Insurance Journal:

“A new insurtech wants to provide pay-as-you-go workers’ compensation to as many small businesses in California as possible, and it hopes to use the momentum it’s built following a quiet launch in the East earlier this year to do just that.

Oyster Insurance, which started providing workers’ comp to 70-plus classes of business in New York and New Jersey without much fanfare or media coverage in January, began operating in California this week.”

Oyster’s expansion in California has already attracted a dozen companies to sign deals with them in a few days’ time. They have licenses in 26 states and plans to get more in 2019. So they are obviously only in the beginning.

Story 3: Insurance startup Bright Health raises $200M at ~$950M valuation

Extract, read more on Techcrunch:

“A flurry of digital-first insurers are betting they can surpass industry incumbents with a little help from technology and a lot of help from venture capitalists.

The latest to land a massive check is Bright Health, a Minneapolis-headquartered provider of affordable individual, family and Medicare Advantage healthcare plans in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, New York City, Ohio and Tennessee. The company, founded by the former chief executive officer of UnitedHealthcare Bob Sheehy; Kyle Rolfing, the former CEO of UnitedHealth-acquired Definity Health; and Tom Valdivia, another former Definity Health executive, has brought in a $200 million Series C.”

US InsurTech startups are growing both in numbers and scales. There have already been 94 deals in 2018 globally and 2 billion USD raised in US.

The big raise this week is from USA, from the massive broken Health Insurance market.

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Zarc Gin is an analyst for Warp Speed Fintech, a Fintech, especially InsurTech-focused Venture Capital based in China.

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.

 

 

Gifs, memes and Money Mentors – the era of the expert is here

This week over at Daily Fintech we launched our book an expert service, allowing our readers to go one layer below the research we provide for free, in the public domain. It’s one more string to what I can confirm are many stringed bows for each of us in the team.

I like to think this initiative is a perfect microcosm representation of the emerging workplace – niche subject matter experts that can now monetise their skills via low barrier, digital service marketplaces. It’s that next evolution beyond more traditional freelance platforms like UpWork and its ilk.

Leveraging knowledge imbalances has always been at the heart of the service economy. While some types of knowledge are now readily available at our fingertips, complex decision-making processes still require a helping hand. Like navigating the US student loan system.

NextGenVest, which just this week announced it had been acquired by CommonBond, connects wannabe students with Money Mentors: current undergrad college students, sophomore and higher (but not graduate students) who have previously applied for financial aid and scholarships. Via text message, Money Mentors are ready, between classes and beer pong, to answer questions and provide guidance on how incoming students can negotiate and access the best student loan deals possible. As detailed in the job description, Money Mentors must:

Create a friendly environment for conversations with students over text using gifs and memes. Be available for shifts at least 16hrs/week (over 3-4 days) between 8am-12am (but you get to choose your shifts according to your schedule!)

Money Mentors are paid based on the amount of times they ‘deliver value to a student’, with the average mentor making upwards of US$400 every fortnight. Not bad going for a student with a few hours to kill. And we all know they have plenty of those.

3 or 4 years ago, who would have thought this would have been a job? It’s a reminder of the scope and untapped economic opportunity in the knowledge economy. While NextGenVest might be exploiting a surprisingly niche area, there are plenty of other sites you can head to for more typical advice, served up online, in micro-bites. For example, if you’re a doctor or a vet, try Just Answer, or if you want startup advice, head to Clarity. If you’re a bit of generalist, head to Maven, who’s tagline is ‘Everybody Knows Something’. Well at least they think they do, in my experience.

Portfolio careers are blossoming, and NextGenVest and co are just one of the ecosystem enablers. Financial services that support this new ‘work’ paradigm aren’t really keeping up. As the line between work and personal life gets even more blurred, this idea of business and personal banking being ‘separate’, starts to break down. It’s one of my core theses, and something I’m yet to see anyone really tackle, in a serious way. ‘Next Gen Banking’ shouldn’t be about digitising existing banking processes, or making them faster. B-o-r-i-n-g. It should be about inventing completely new ways of thinking about money and lifestyle, or reassembling the constituent parts into novel and fresh experiences. I guess we’ll just have to keep waiting a little longer…

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.