What I’m about to say won’t be easy reading. Sit tight, buckle up.
Whilst there are still a few weeks of December left, it’s just, well, the Alps have had a tonne of snow and it’d be rude not to head out for some mountain goodness.
And so this is the last SøNws of 2019.
Peak divergence meets peak convergence
Nothing like an ambiguous title to kick things off.
We recently completed the quarterly analysis of the 2019 Insurtech 100 and have seen more growth than ever before. Like real growth. Money in exchange for goods and services, kind of growth.
The sources of growth for the 100 is mixed; acquiring a greater share of its core launch-market, stepping into new geographies and even, in the case of Zhong An, the launching of new startups.
But it’s no surprise right?
These companies are led by ambitious entrepreneurs who are thriving on the confidence of a successful company. They’re unencumbered by legacy tech, nor restrained by over-engineered process or leadership misdirection. They’re agile, have innovation and ambition sitting at the heart of their company culture and a market that still isn’t up to too much.
Oh, and have access to a bunch of capital to deploy against innovation. That also helps.
And so we’re seeing further divergence from the incumbents.
If you’d like a copy of the analysis, or the write up at least, drop me a line.
In balance, I’ve also had a couple of meetings with big insurers this week, both of whom are interested in Sønr.
In my meetings, I asked the simple question ‘Why now?’.
[Bear in mind the history to that question is I’ve been standing outside their office with a huge ‘Please buy Sønr’ sign for the past two years. Plus they’re both pretty high-profile when it comes to their innovation: launching new companies, partnering with startups, scale-ups etc.]
So, what had changed?
The answer is that the partnerships they kicked off 12-18 months back are now starting to pay dividends. And with that comes a commercial validation for more of the same. And with that comes the desire to find more startups to help accelerate the delivery of their business.
And so, whilst it might well be the season for peak divergence, in the spirit of Christmas togetherness, it might just also be the season for ever-growing corporate <> startup convergence.
Why's it getting harder to buy Advent calendars at the WeWork gift shop?
Their days are numbered.
Some big investment news from India this week.
Singapore’s state investment arm Temasek is in talks to invest up to $100 million in health and fitness startup Cure.fit at a $800m valuation.
For me that’s not the most interesting bit. More interesting is the deal represents a broader trend, where startups are looking beyond SoftBank for late stage capital.
There’s a fair bit of data pointing to pension and sovereign wealth funds investing directly into startups at the moment, presenting the opportunity for them to realise far larger exits in a much shorter time than normal. Some examples of include Canada’s CPPIB and CDPQ and Singapore’s GIC - and it’s a big shift for these guys.
Sticking with big-money India deals and the Indian fintech leader Paytm has raised $1bn at a $16bn valuation. The new funds will be put to merchant expansion efforts in both online and offline channels with a focus on lending, insurance, and ‘new-age banking’.
Also, the much-publicised start-up Acko, previously invested into by Amazon, has raised $36m in fresh capital. Acko, one of our Insurtech 100, provides motor insurance as well as micro-insurance products such as insurance for ticket cancellation, rider protection and driver protection among others.
At a somewhat smaller scale, the UK’s Cuvva has raised £15m and it set to launch a pay monthly motor insurance product.
And in the US, mental health startup Motivo has raised $2.2m and Openly, the tech-enabled home insurance provider designed to empower rather than replace agents, raised $7.65m. Interestingly the latter was led by Gradient Ventures, Google's AI-focused venture fund.
Oh, so many fingers in so many pies.
How will Christmas dinner be different after Brexit? No Brussels.
No political rants here (now I’ve just deleted them).
Let’s talk partnerships.
In line with the growing convergence I talked about earlier, Hiscox has expanded its partnership with INSTANDA, the cloud-based digital insurance platform. This announcement follows the successful launch of Hiscox’s existing direct-to-consumer car product in Germany and Austria earlier this year.
Allianz also announced a new partnership with Dinghy, the flexible business insurer for the self-employed & freelancers. And Lloyds Banking Group, launched their renters insurance with Trōv.
On the underwriting side, Horizon, which underwrites on behalf of a consortium of insurers led by Legal & General, will be including the Hive Leak Sensor in all its policies from the 1st Jan.
Finally digital MGA C-Quence is launching a P&C suite in the new year with the help of Cytora. Using Cytora’s property API, C-Quence will have a more complete view of risk by instantly connecting property, location, and other data attributes to each P&C submission.
How many people does it take a global insurer to innovate?
A couple more that caught my attention this week.
It looks like Amazon is reaching deeper into healthcare with a new speech recognition service for clinical documentation. Transcribe Medical is their ML-powered transcription service that leverages automatic speech recognition to offer a more efficient and accurate medical note-taking experience. Nice.
Meanwhile ride-hailing unicorn, Gojek quietly lays the groundwork for its digital banking ambitions. It’s spinning out its financial arm, Go-Finance, into an independent entity called Digital Katalis, or Dkatalis.
Interestingly Dkatalis is currently hiring employees across the region and moving Go-Finance staff to the new entity. Plus we also note a filing with the ACRA in Singapore, where it describes itself as a technology platform for financial services. Loving the bleed of business across traditional verticals.
Back in the UK and last week RBS launched Bó to rival the new digital banks. Whilst I genuinely love the ambition, when asking potential customers to 'stick their tounge out' during on-boarding, you've got to question how well they tested the CX.
Finally, super pleased to see Delphine Maisonneuve, CEO of AXA Brazil, will be taking on the role of Group Chief Innovation Officer and AXA Next Chief Executive. For clarity AXA Next, which steers the group’s innovation strategy, is made up of AXA Labs, AXA Venture Partners, Kamet, AXA Partners, and AXA Global Parametrics. She’s a super impressive lady and I can’t wait to see what comes of her new role.
Right, it’s that time.
If you're still reading, check our latest Spøtlight with Aquarium Software. These guys help insurance companies such as Covea and Markerstudy enhance the customer experience through their platform. We sat down with Mark Colonnese to chat through their plans for 2020, which include rolling out new tech and breaking into a new market.
For now though, have a great weekend, Christmas, New Year and all that.
If there are any clients or soon-to-be client reading this, I’ll still be on the mobile and at a desk when needs be. Feel free to get in touch.
Sø.Nws is brought to you by Sønr.
Sønr is a world-leading market intelligence platform created specifically for the insurance sector. It is used by small and large insurance companies, around the world, to accelerate corporate innovation.
It provides intelligence on market trends, competitor playbooks and disruptive tech companies globally. It also has a number of features that help you track and manage scouting activity across your organisation.