Welcome to 5 Questions, a blog series where an Xceedance team member shares their perspectives on insurance, technology, and market trends. For this edition, we spoke with David Edwards, CEO of ChainThat, an Xceedance company.
Q1: Your background is not in the insurance sector – what drew you to this industry?
David: Like many in the industry I kind of fell into insurance, and once I got to understand the inner workings and the impact it has on society I was captivated. Previously, I had a background in electronics and technology from being an engineer in the Royal Air Force and supporting internet service providers and telecommunications firms. What I found was that the insurance industry is years behind in technology advancement compared to other areas and there was an opportunity to move it forward and have a genuine impact on society – that appealed to me.
Q2: You founded ChainThat to create simple, practical solutions to address the modern challenges insurers face. How have you and your team gone about that?
David: We have approached this from an outcome perspective. We wanted to help drive down the cost of insurance which can be done by either reducing the operational expense or reducing the actual risk and number of claims. The only way the insurance industry can do this is by having the tools they need to create and manage insurance products that can change and adapt to the market needs. We have focused on creating simple solutions for the insurance industry to use, but to do this the technology and design required can be complex. So in effect we create tools that are simple for insurance practitioners (brokers, insurers, MGAs, and agents) to create and manage insurance products and take the complexity out of the technology. Insurance companies should be focused on the business of insurance without the need to build the technology themselves.
Q3: What impact do you think technology will have on the insurance sector in the coming years?
David: As the industry starts to truly digitise over the next 5 years, there is still a lot of work to do to get away from manual and legacy systems. I think we will then start to see the real impact of technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), and smart contracts. Insurance products go through a lifecycle where initially they seem to be complex and need skilled underwriters to assess them but as more data comes in we can begin to simplify and commodities these products. As we adopt more modern technologies this process can speed up drastically and as new risks are identified (that need insurance cover) technology can help the industry keep up with a fast-changing world to reduce the ever-growing insurance gap. The potential for embedded insurance and on-demand insurance will only increase as technology is adopted.
Q4: You frequently highlight how ChainThat’s Beyond Policy Administration (BPA) product can be run on a Raspberry Pi computer. Explain why that is noteworthy.
David: There were two key reasons, the first being that today, with cloud technologies, engineers have access to what seems like an unlimited supply of computer resources and services to build solutions on. This comes at a cost in terms of power and efficiency. We decided to make sure our platform can run on a Raspberry Pi which is a very low-cost single-board computer to ensure we are very efficient with our solution. In practice, we run our custom solutions on the cloud for high availability and redundancy, but we can be confident we are doing this efficiently. The second reason is that there is a shortage of development talent coming out of schools and we wanted to be able to encourage the next generation of engineers to get involved. By using a low-cost device like a Raspberry PI we can help promote to children that they can learn about programming and create solutions that will hopefully excite them (like it did to me when I was at school), thus equipping them to be the future generation of technologists. I see too many children today as consumers of technology and not enough who want to learn how it works. There are so many resources available today, like the Raspberry PI, that can make technology accessible for all children and adults to learn.
Q5: What is one thing you’d like people to know about ChainThat that they may not already?
David: Not all ChainThat solutions are based on Blockchain or Distributed Ledger Technologies as the company name implies. While earlier in our development all our platforms used these, today we have diversified to use a mixture of technologies, and we feel this is the right long-term answer for the industry based on the solutions we are creating. I still feel blockchain and DLT will be vital to future insurance marketplace solutions, but for other areas like policy administration and distribution we use standalone technologies.
Thanks to David Edwards for sharing his insights, and watch for the next installment of 5 Questions coming soon!