Hackernoon logoPolicyPal Network — A Fintech Startup Taking Insurance to a New Level of Accessibility by@HashSpike

PolicyPal Network — A Fintech Startup Taking Insurance to a New Level of Accessibility

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@HashSpikeHashSpike

DISCLAIMER: I am in no way associated with the PolicyPal team. Neither am I a financial advisor, nor is this meant to be financial advice. Whatever follows, just reflects my understanding of the project, and my personal opinion on its future outlook.

We are currently witnessing the early stages of how the blockchain technology is disrupting nearly every industry in some form or the other, despite the technology still being in its infancy, and facing several technological hurdles on its way to global adoption.

Blockchain technology has already made inroads into several industries including banking and payment systems, supply chain management, Internet-of-Things (IoT), advertising, energy management, healthcare, retail, real estate, web services, cloud storage, and the list goes on.

There is one industry, however, that is still struggling to keep pace with the advent of new consumer technologies in the digital realm: the insurance industry. According to a study conducted in 2016 by Swiss Re Institute:

Global direct insurance premiums totalled US$ 4.6 trillion in 2016, which is 6.3% of global gross domestic product.

According to another report published by Munich Re in April 2017:

The global insurance industry is likely to see slightly increased growth by 2018.
In the longer term, the emerging markets of Asia will have the greatest growth potential, and their share of primary insurance premium is expected to be on a par with that of Western Europe in the next few years.

Despite being such a massive industry, the global insurance ecosystem is still using a largely archaic approach, and has innovated very little towards adoption of new, and more efficient consumer technologies. Today, the insurance landscape is filled with a large number of intermediaries, consisting of distribution agents, brokers, and banks, operating with inefficient record-keeping systems that involve storage of documentation in an analog world of paper prints. This makes the insurance claims and distribution process time-consuming, cumbersome, and a frustrating experience for claimants.

Moreover, due to the general lack of transparency in the insurance industry, in the event of potential insurance claims, the claimants are subjected to an excessive amount of stress associated with understanding the insurance coverage specifics, and the required data collection. Even after meeting all the requirements, insurance claims can take up to several weeks to process after accidents have occurred.

PolicyPal, launched in April 2016, aims to address the challenges faced by consumers when dealing with insurance, all the way from from selecting and purchasing insurance policies, to completing and processing insurance claims.

What is PolicyPal?

PolicyPal is a registered insurance broker in Singapore employing machine learning and artificial intelligence to digitise insurance policies and allow users to seamlessly select and manage existing policies.

PolicyPal is also utlising the blockchain technology to build a decentralised platform, called PolicyPal Network, to bridge the gap between consumers in developing countries, and insurance providers, by transforming accessibility to the insurance ecosystem. PolicyPal Network would allow users to not only choose and purchase insurance policies, but would also serve as a secure validation engine for policy payouts.

The vision of PolicyPal is two-fold:

  • To lower the barriers associated with traditional insurance coverage for the millions of unbanked people in developing countries who do not have access to adequate insurance protection.
  • To insure commercial companies and individual investors against loss of cryptoassets resulting from security breaches on cryptocurrency exchanges and wallets.

How does PolicyPal plan to achieve this?

PolicyPal is using Optical Character Recognition (OCR), rule-based algorithms, and taxonomy to digitise all the insurance policies and automate their analysis. It takes only about 30 seconds for this system to digitise an insurance policy, and through the use of algorithms, determine specific details of the coverage to provide personalized recommendations to the end-users.

PolicyPal is utilizing data from its growing list of global insurance partners to build Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to fetch instant insurance policy quotations and coverage details for the consumers.

Through gathering data on insurance premiums, policyholder demographics, and claims data, PolicyPal will also identify voids in the insurance market, and co-operate with its insurance partners to create new products to fill these voids. Therefore, PolicyPal is in a symbiotic relationship with its global insurance partners.

Finally, PolicyPal Network benefits from the far-reaching improvements that the blockchain technology provides, which would significantly enhance the user experience, and the interaction between consumers and insurance providers. The advantages that the blockchain brings to PolicyPal are:

  • Secure time-stamped storage of all relevant information of policy holders.
  • Automated handling of insurance payouts using smart contracts, thereby resulting in an overall improved operational efficiency.
  • Reduction in insurance fraud due to data immutability and transparency of the blockchain.

In the first stage, PolicyPal Network will use the Ethereum blockchain. However, the future plan is to develop a dedicated PolicyPal Network blockchain tailored to its products and services.

In line with its two-fold vision mentioned earlier, PolicyPal has two product lines:

First product line: CryptoProtect Service

CryptoProtect Service is a cyber security service in partnership with global insurers to protect cryptocurrency assets. One of the biggest challenges concerning cryptocurrencies is the security of cryptoassets during storage, either on exchanges, or on the various online and offline wallets. Unfortunate events like the closure of MtGox exchange in February 2014 due to the theft of 850,000 bitcoins, and the hack of Bitfinex exchange in 2016 where about 120,000 bitcoins were stolen, exacerbate the fear of investors concerning the security of their cryptoassets. CryptoProtect service will, therefore, provide cryptocurrency asset insurance to consumers who are either using cryptocurrency wallets, or are trading on cryptocurrency exchanges.

Second product line: P2P Mutual Aid products for emerging markets

The aim of P2P Mutual Aid products is to create an insurance ecosystem that is powered by communities, such that the more members that join the insurance platform, the stronger the platform becomes.

The traditional insurance ecosystem involves a lot of layers, intermediaries, and sub-processes, resulting in higher insurance premiums and poor scalability over extended geographical areas. The process of registering insurance claims in this system is time-consuming and cumbersome for claimants.

Insurance claims process in the traditional insurance ecosystem, taken from PolicyPal Network whitepaper found here (PDF)

On the other hand, the P2P Mutual Aid insurance via the PolicyPal Network aims to automate the claims process, and through addressing the issue of trust, create an insurance ecosystem that is highly scalable across extended geographical areas.

P2P Mutual Aid insurance claims process using the blockchain technology for claims automation, taken from PolicyPal Network whitepaper found here (PDF)

P2P Mutual Aid insurance covers a number of insurance types, including life insurance, personal accident plan, property insurance, and agricultural insurance.

Team and Advisors

PolicyPal’s team consists of highly experienced individuals in insurance, blockchain, finance and technology.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Founder of PolicyPal, Val Yap, was included in Forbes 30 under 30 Asia 2017 for the Finance & Venture Capital category, and has a Masters degree in Business Management from Imperial College London. She has, previously, also held the positions of Assistant Vice President at OCBC Bank, and Risk Assurance Associate at PwC.

The Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) of PolicyPal, Lucas Chua, has previously held the position of APAC Leader in the IBM Global Entrepreneur Program. Lucas has worked with several startups in the blockchain and fintech space. He was also the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of TechinAsia, and is currently an advisor for BuzzVox, a Singapore based blockchain IoT startup.

PolicyPal’s team members have previously worked with a number of reputed organizations, including the following:

Companies that PolicyPal’s team members have previously worked with

The advisory board of PolicyPal is also star-studded with reputed names from the blockchain and fintech space, notably including: Scott Walchek— CEO and Founder of Trōv and an early investor in Baidu, Bo Shen — Founding Partner of Fenbushi Capital, and Shaun Djie— Co-founder of DigixGlobal, Ethereum’s first ICO.

Partnerships

PolicyPal has already struck partnerships with a number of global insurance companies, including some big names like AIG, Allianz, AXA, Bupa, Etiqa, HSBC Insurance, MSIG and Singapore Life.

PolicyPal’s global insurance partners, as of this writing

PolicyPal is also engaged in talks with other trusted partners from technology startups, telecom companies, conglomerates, and convenience stores, in countries such as Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

Investors

PolicyPal’s investors include reputed organisations like PayPal Incubation, 500 Startups, Startupbootcamp Fintech, Fenbushi Capital, and BlockAsset.

Some of PolicyPal’s early investors

Awards and Media Coverage

The PolicyPal project has received tremendous recognition and numerous awards in Singapore, as well as globally.

PolicyPal Singapore is the first startup to successfully graduate from Monetary Authority Singapore (MAS) Fintech Sandbox in August 2017. The Fintech Sandbox, setup by MAS, enables fintech experimentation so that promising innovations can be tested in the market, and enabled for wider adoption in Singapore and abroad.

Following is a list of selected awards and media coverage that PolicyPal has already received:

Roadmap

PolicyPal has a very ambitious and active roadmap over the next few months, some of the major milestones being alpha and beta releases of PolicyPal Network, alpha and beta releases of PolicyPal Network Blockchain, and the launch of CryptoProtect and P2P Mutual Aid insurance.

As per their whitepaper, following is the roadmap that PolicyPal Network is going to follow through 2018:

Q1 2018

  • Launch of Website and Whitepaper
  • Announcement of Partnerships in emerging countries
  • Proof of concept for CryptoProtect insurance with global insurer
  • Alpha Release: PolicyPal Network on Ethereum Testnet
  • Token Generation Event (“Token Generation Event”)

Q2 2018

  • Alpha Release: PolicyPal Network on Ethereum Testnet with Partner in new country
  • Beta Release: PolicyPal Network on Ethereum Mainnet with Partner in new country
  • Alpha Release: Testing of CryptoProtect insurance with Partner
  • Launch: Cryptocurrency insurance with Global Insurer
  • Alpha Release: Testing of bonus in PAL tokens with selected community members
  • Launch: Bonus in PAL tokens for members who purchase policies

Q3 2018

  • Alpha Release: PolicyPal Network Blockchain
  • Beta Release: PolicyPal Network Blockchain with Proof of Stake
  • Launch: PolicyPal Network Blockchain with exchange of ERC-20 tokens onto PolicyPal Network Mainnet
  • Launch: P2P Mutual Aid Insurance — Personal and Life Insurance on PolicyPal Network Blockchain

Q4 2018

  • Further expansion of PolicyPal Network into other Asian countries
  • Proof of concept for new insurance products with global insurer on Blockchain
  • Launch: P2P Mutual Aid Insurance — Agriculture and Property Insurance on PolicyPal Network Blockchain
  • New product ideas and ongoing iteration

PAL Token and Token Sale Metrics

In PolicyPal’s ecosystem PAL token holders get the following benefits:

  • Community gets rewarded in PAL tokens for completing surveys.
  • Customers get additional 2% bonus in PAL tokens when buying insurance policies on PolicyPal platform.
  • PAL tokens would be used to operate network nodes on the Proof-Of-Stake (POS) PolicyPal Network blockchain.

50% of the total PAL tokens will be distributed through a presale and a crowdsale, with a total hard cap of 23,809 ETH (about US$ 23 million as of this writing). 17,809 ETH were raised in the presale, and 6000 ETH are allocated for the crowdsale.

The token and funds allocation for PAL are shown below.

Token allocation for PAL, taken from PolicyPal Network whitepaper found here (PDF)
Allocation of proceeds from PAL token sale, taken from PolicyPal Network whitepaper found here (PDF)

As of this writing, the presale is already completed, and the crowdsale is heavily oversubscribed.

Bottom Line

PolicyPal is using fintech and the blockchain technology to tackle a real-world problem plaguing the traditional insurance industry. Therefore, the project has a very strong use case, and has already established numerous partnerships with insurance companies globally, and as of this writing, has already accumulated a user base of over 32,000 in Singapore alone, since the launch of the product 12 months ago.

If PolicyPal delivers on its ambitions, it is expected to be a transformative project for the untapped insurance landscape in developing countries, and for the security of cryptoassets.

PolicyPal has very accomplished and competent team members and advisors working on the project, with an ambitious roadmap over the next year.

PolicyPal is a project to watch out for, not just by the end-users of its products and services, but also by potential investors in the PAL token.

Further Reading on PolicyPal Network

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