LiveMed – When Digital replaces Physical for the human touch

By Rick Huckstep

Digital solutions have replaced many tasks and actions. But sometimes, nothing beats a face-to-face interaction with a customer. This week, I look at a solution from Silicon Valley start-up LiveMed. Using a VideoTech platform, LiveMed replicates the physical experience with a digital one.

Signing-ContractLet me tell you a story that happened last year. I’ll skip the detail, other than to say, I was required to confirm my identity and sign a document by a department in a financial institution.

With my passport and utility bill in hand, I went in search of a branch (which isn’t as easy as it used to be, even in Central London). It didn’t help that the fax machine at the first branch I found was out of order and I had to go find another one.

Which I did, and after much back and forth on the phone between the department, the branch and me, we completed the process and I was on my way. This whole episode cost me several hours of inconvenience.

What struck me at the time was how “out of date” this institution was. Not just technically or digitally, but also in terms of customer experience. And it was completely unnecessary.

Digital FinTechs and InsurTechs have been onboarding new clients in less than 10 minutes without any physical interaction. Identities can be proved and verified in a matter of minutes with back ground checks, a photo of your passport and a selfie.

The use of eSignatures is widespread. In the United States, the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act is a federal law to facilitate the use of electronic signatures in commerce (long form definition on Wikipedia here).

In the European Union, the equivalent regulation is the Electronic Signature Directive (see Wikipedia reference here) that defines the use of eSignatures in electronic contracts within the EU.

Both of these legislative frameworks require the same thing, which is that electronic signatures are regarded as equivalent to written signatures.

Last month, I wrote about the use of VideoTech in the claims handling process (can-video-restore-trust-for-both-insurer-and-insured-when-making-an-insurance-claim). In that piece, I talked to InsurTech startup about their use of video technology to both reduce cost for insurers and improve the customer experience for claimants.

logo_finalEPSThis week, I move to the front end of the insurance process; client onboarding and policy administration, and talk to LiveMed. To tell me how their solution brings together the use of video, customer identification and eSignatures, I Skyped with Silicon Valley based Co-Founder and CEO, Yair Ravid.

Yair explained to me that “LiveMed is a platform that allows financial institutions to confirm customer identity remotely, collect signatures remotely and provide a video record of the customer engagement.”

The way it works is simple.

When a face-to-face discussion is required, the insurer emails a link to the customer. This can be for events such as to confirm a customer’s understanding of the insurance policy conditions or to witness their signing of all parts of the policy agreement.

The customer activates the link and they are connected via a live video to an insurance agent. The agent is able to use the LiveMed platform to conduct a secure, face-to-face discussion with the client. The platform allows for documents to be shared between the two parties, which they can both review and amend in real time, before both parties sign electronically and the document is locked down.

The whole session is recorded and kept for several years in case a customer disputes the policy conditions or that they even signed the policy all together. (If you are interested in an example of a policyholder disputing an electronic signature, read this article in Insurance Journal about Bonck v White.)

Knowing whom you’re talking too

Whilst digital facial recognition technology (and other biometric measures) are advanced and sophisticated, humans remain better at visual identification. And in some jurisdictions, they remain the only option as biometrics are not yet permitted for identity verification.

“Humans understand the face holistically” according to this study entitled “The Limits of Facial Recognition” by Tim De Chant. And visual identification still carries great weight in the process of verifying a customer’s identity and in fraud detection. Humans are better at assessing if we are who we say we are, or if our claim is suspect.

There will always be occasions when a face-to-face meeting is required to complete a transaction. LiveMed enables this human interaction without requiring the customer to go into a branch. Or, an insurance agent visiting their home.

More than a VideoTech platform

Behind the video interaction, LiveMed’s algorithms verify the authenticity of documents supplied by the customer. Yair told me; “when a customer brings in a fake document, we have a high success rate at identifying if it is a fake. We’ve developed a solution that takes real IDs, studies different parameters against them and then compares these with the documents being presented. The institution still relies on human judgment, but LiveMed gives the agent a reliable tool to help with the decision process.”

Screenshot 2015-12-17 13.26.40

The LiveMed platform uses webRTC, an open source platform that provides browsers and mobile applications with Real-Time Communications (RTC) capabilities via simple APIs. It also runs as a cloud or an on -premise solution to cater for an institution’s specific requirements and policies on security, data, and technology.

It is a device independent platform that delivers both mobile and web. Yair explained; “we’ve worked hard to make this very easy to use for the customer. Simply click on the link, go online with the agent, finalize or review the document, open the signature box and then sign with their finger. Simple!”

“We take any format document or webpage, whatever, and turn them into a series of pictures. This allows changes, sketches and amendments on the screen by both parties, real time. Then these pictures, or pages, are locked and put together and sent to both parties as a record. We are patenting the technology because we believe it to be unique.”

The old fashioned ways are no longer viable

Asking a customer to come into a branch carrying paper just isn’t going to cut it anymore. Nor is the cost of sending a representative to meet the customer. In this digital, mobile age, time is precious and money is tight.

We are also in the consumer protection age of regulation. Financial institutions need to be able to prove beyond doubt that their conduct is acceptable. That customer’s fully understand the financial decisions they are making.

This requires evidence that both parties can rely on should there be a dispute. (see my previous research notes on RecordSure and their use of AI for compliance monitoring).

With LiveMed, the finance institution “sees” the person in real time without the inconvenience or cost of a physical in-person meeting. And because the transaction is completed there and then, the insurer doesn’t have to wait for documents to be sent and processed. And both parties can be certain there are no mistakes (right first time) because everything is checked and verified on the video call.

What next for LiveMed?

Yair is one of three co-founders who bootstrapped LiveMed and took the start-up through the UpWest Labs accelerator in Palo Alto. LiveMed have now raised their first $400k from seed funding on their way to raising $1.5m series A. The MVP is built and in pilot with several financial institutions and the new funding will enable them to launch the platform into the US financial services market.

The author, Rick Huckstep is an InsurTech thought leader. Daily Fintech Advisers provide strategic consulting to organizations with business and investment interests in Fintech.

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