Will Kin be the Simple of Insurtech with a better UX to crack open the home insurance market?


Kin recently raised a $4m Series A from top tier investors for a proven management team. The plan does not sound exciting.There is no conceptual breakthrough. Nor is there any deep, proprietary technology.  All they are doing is using better digital UX to reduce the time it takes to buy house insurance from hours to minutes.

Simple to say, but valuable if done well.

This is a bet on execution. In VC lingo, this is betting on the jockey not the horse.

One of these Insurance companies will buy them

Kin does not sound exciting…unless you are a shareholder of Kin. Reducing sign up time from hours to minutes is not conceptually exciting but if it reduces Customer Acquisition Cost and grows the top line, the acquirers will be forming a line outside their door.

Reducing sign up time is also relatively simple to do. Most of the data that Insurance companies ask us to enter could be found online. This is a 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration business where the devil/god is in the details. Reducing sign up time also  works because having spent a lot of time buying the house of our dreams we want to be done quickly with the boring but essential insurance task. Time matters.

Look at the following list of top 15 Home Insurance companies from A.M. Best:

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Any one of these could be an acquirer.

The Simple BBVA story

Way back in the early days of Fintech, we had Simple. They did a $2.9m Series A in September 2010 and sold to BBVA for $117m in February 2014 – 3.5 years later. All they did was offer a better digital UX. Naysayers would ask “where is the moat/defensibility?” but the reality is incumbents are bad at digital innovation so they will pay to buy it if it is proven to acquire customers.

Given the accelerating pace of innovation, the Kin exit story will probably be written in less than 3.5 years from now.

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Bernard Lunn is a Fintech deal-maker, author, investor and thought-leader.

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Why I am closing my Steemit account and why I am a bear on EOS


TL:DR. Steemit feels like a cross between a popularity contest and a work from home hustle. And the EOS ICO turned me into a bear on Dan Larimer who is also the man behind the curtain for Steemit (and EOS and Bitshares).

Clearly I  don’t expect this post will get a good reaction from Steemit fans! That is part of the point. Media should be independent. A post on Steemit slamming EOS is probably not a good way to earn Steem.

This was an experiment that had reached a natural conclusion for me. Steemit enthusiasts will tell me I should persevere, but there are only so many hours in a day. 

There was a lot to like about Steemit. The idea of a social network where content creators get paid by other content creators is appealing. 

Right objective, wrong implementation.

I can see how to make Steemit work as a creator. It is similar to points systems on venues such as Hacker News and Reddit. That is what makes it a popularity contest. If you write something that the top influencers like, you collect Steem. That feels like a PR game of “you scratch my back, I will scratch your’s”. Yes that is similar to the “if you follow me, I will follow you game on Twitter” which I don’t do either.

The Internet has been brilliant at enabling everybody to write as well as read. It has been less good at providing an income for creators. For a long time, Advertising was the answer, but with ad fatigue and adblockers that model is challenged. However Steemit does not look like the answer either – which is the subject of today’s post.

The blockchain part of the Steemit story seems like contrived PR – a bit of a random buzzword generator. You don’t need blockchain to rate content – hello Reddit, Hacker News and Fintech Genome. Nor do you need blockchain to pay content creators – hello Patreon. 

The blockchain part of the Steemit story seems to be designed to sell a narrative that EOS is the Ethereum killer platform. I do not buy this story either. The technology advantage is totally unclear. I can see a pitch that you can program Smart Contracts in any language not just Solidity, but no clue how they will do this, let alone a MVP.  There are lots of blogs and vlogs along the lines of “I don’t understand the technology but Dan Larimer is a genius so I am sure it will be an Ethereum killer”. Steemit is proof that Dan Larimer is a genius and thus why investing in EOS is a winner. Does that translate to “I bought some EOS coins and I hope somebody will buy them for a good price”? The pitch is a bit like for a super expensive car – “if you have to ask the price, you cannot afford it”. In this case “if you have to ask what the technology advantage is, you are probably too technically illiterate to understand it”.  Who knows, but without a convincing technical explanation of why EOS is better than Ethereum, one should note that the EOS ICO is done using….Ethereum. 

I onboarded onto Steemit using standard two factor authentication. Then I was told that my application was “awaiting approval”. I was not the first to find this seemingly manual process step strange, but I was approved after a few hours. So I will probably remain as a statistic around “inactive registered users” along with all the other social networks where one is inactive.

This apparently manual process step was a red flag for me.

What happens if I recommend Steemit to someone and they cannot sign up? I think there are better ways to trap spam accounts. Maybe this is a pragmatic entrepreneurial “do things that don’t scale” that is life-stage appropriate, or maybe not. I don’t know but it is a red flag. 

Steve Jobs managed two companies successfully. Dan Larimer is managing 3 – Bitshares, Steemit and EOS – and I doubt he is in Steve Job’s class as an entrepreneur. No professional investor would back an unproven entrepreneur with three parallel ventures. Is the crowd being smart or dumb?

I imagine that Dan Larimer is brilliant, probably a visionary who is far ahead of his time. Some of his experiments may appear as a footnote in history along the lines of “back in 2017 there was an attempt at a similar idea that failed…”. I like experiments, I just choose not to be part of this experiment by donating either my time or my money.

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Bernard Lunn is a Fintech deal-maker, author, investor and thought-leader.

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.

The Jarvish smart helmet IOT Insurtech from Taiwan is another First the Rest then the West story


Jarvish is a Taiwanese company that is doing a lot more than making it easier to buy insurance. They are using hard technology innovation to reduce accidents and therefore reduce the cost of insurance, using smart helmets that can monitor your driving.

We are seeing the same thing in the West with sensors embedded into cars. Jarvish is doing this in the Rest of the World where a motorbike is the first automated transport that a family can afford. Rather than selling into a motorbike market in the West with tens of millions of hobby bikers (they also have a car but just love to bike for fun), Jarvish is selling to the hundreds of millions of bikers in the Rest who use motorbikes as their primary means of transport.

Rather than having to negotiate with car manufacturers, Jarvish simply make the helmet and sell it to consumers.

That is why Jarvish illustrates a megatrend we have been tracking for a while that we call “first the Rest then the West”.

In doing so they are solving a Catch 22 for motorbike insurance. If driving a motorbike is so dangerous then claims will be high so premiums will be high, so the poor people who rely on motorbikes as their primary means of transport cannot afford insurance.

First the Rest then the West

This is one of the big stories of our time. It is the end of what historians have called the Great Divergence, when the Western economies rose to dominance.

For most of the 20th century, technology was limited to the West. Countries in the Rest (formerly known as developing, then emerging, then rapid growth economies) were “tech deserts” until those economies started to open up (first China, then India, then Africa). Then technology adoption started to flow from the West to the Rest; the last decade has been a boom time for Western tech firms selling to the Rest.

Now the flow is reversing as technology adoption starts in the Rest and then goes to the West. For example, look at Xiaomi to see the future of mobile phones and Alibaba for the future of e-commerce or Paytm for the future of mobile wallets.

This megatrend is not limited to Fintech. Within Fintech, mobile payments and mobile e-commerce is the big disruption and that is happening first in the Rest and then will flow to the West.

Technology adoption starting in the Rest rather than the West is one of the big 21st century megatrends.

Note that I am referring to technology adoption. Where something is invented matters a lot less than where and how it is adopted, as Steve Jobs taught us after wandering around Xerox Parc and seeing the first graphical user interface and using that to create a PC with a much better UX. What really matter is innovative customers and customer innovation is driven by blue ocean markets with big unmet needs and lack of legacy technology constraining innovation.

If you need a smart helmet to keep your family safe, you have a big and so far unmet need. That is why we think Jarvish is a company to watch.

The Asia Inurtech story 

We have already tracked Insurtech innovation coming from India, Korea, Singapore, China. This is the first we have seen from Taiwan. Asia has all the ingredients to become the locus of Insurtech innovation:

  • Big blue ocean markets with lots of unmet needs
  • Lack of legacy technology constraining innovation
  • Hard core technology skills linked to manufacturing expertise (so they can build physical products and are not limited to digital innovation).

Technology innovation not just UX layer digital innovation

The idea of a smart helmet is not new, but like so many Taiwanese companies, Jarvish competes through technology innovation. This is not just another digital UX layer startup. Jarvish has invested years and lots of Ph.D level resources to create a smart helmet that does not require Bluetooth. Even more critical from a safety POV, the Jarvish helmet does not use lithium batteries (which can overheat and explode) and they use “military-grade ceramic anti-explosive batteries”. First do no harm – the helmet has to be safe.

The best way to think about the Jarvish smart helmet is like the black box system that crash investigators extract from commercial aircraft, except that this black box is tiny, cheap and cloud-connected.

Like Apple, this is innovation from technology to consumer marketing and Jarvish is not shy about making the comparison:

“Much like smart phones, at first they were only cool high-tech gadgets, but quickly became an essential part of everyone’s daily life. In the near future, smart safety helmets will definitely be as common as smart phones.”

Illustrating the “first the Rest then the West” megatrend,  the Jarvish roadmap includes products we can envisage also getting traction in the West:

“all types of smart headgear, with such applications such as smart helmets for skiing, diving, firefighting, cycling, drones, extreme sports, and entertainment. All of which will include smart functions and module designs, as well as all the incorporated software needed. We also provide a cloud platform, and international-level third-party value adding services to users.”

The Art of the Chef – combining ingredients

You don’t need to look too hard to see a revenue model. Jarvish sell helmets to consumers with their smart helmet technology embedded. This is simple but powerful.  It illustrates what I call the Art of the Chef business model in my book Mindshare to Marketshare. The chapter entitled Turn Secret Sauce Into Unfair Advantage describes how Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) companies grew to dominance by avoiding commoditization by combining commodity ingredients into a differentiated package. The book uses companies like Coca Cola selling sugared water at high prices or Gillette charging a premium for razor blades that cost very little to illustrate how to combine commodity ingredients into a product that is highly differentiated. The book then goes on to show how companies such as Apple and Visa used this in technology. Jarvish is on the same path.

I liken this art of combining to cooking. You have lots of components that go into a dish. You might even have a secret ingredient that defines it. Yet the whole is obviously more than the parts.

It gets more interesting when you move from FMCG to technology driven businesses:

”Consider the greatest entrepreneur the tech world has ever seen – Steve Jobs. 

Steve Jobs innovated by combining multiple commodity ingredients into a very tasty dish. He was a technology chef.

At one level he combined multiple commodity ingredients to create unique devices such as the iPod, iPhone and iPad. He combined lots of commodity components sourced from all over the world into a uniquely beautiful and useful product by adding a touch of design magic. However, if he had only created “insanely great devices”, Apple’s business would be more vulnerable to competitors like Samsung and Xiaomi. The reason that Apple is so valuable is that Steve Jobs combined great physical devices with digital services like iTunes and AppStore into a combination that still mints money long after he died. That is why Apple has massive amounts of Unfair Advantage (aka moat, aka competitive advantage). 

You  also see this art of combining in payment network such as Visa, Mastercard and Amex. Yes, these payment networks have software at the core. Yes, they own the hardware servers that the software runs on. Yet they don’t license that as a SAAS product to banks. They wrap it into other services to deliver transactions to consumers via Banks. That is how Visa, Mastercard and Amex turn their secret sauce into Unfair Advantage. 

What Coca Cola, Apple, Visa, Mastecard and Amex have in common is the art of the chef – to combine commodity ingredients into value.”

I see this same art of combining in Jarvish. At one level they combine their proprietary smart helmet technology with the commodity components and manufacturing process of making helmets to create their own differentiated helmet. They combine their own yeast with water, flour and salt to make bread. The next step, akin to Apple moving from iPods/iPhones devices to device hooked to iTunes is to create a digital product that reduces accidents and thus reduces insurance costs.

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Bernard Lunn is a Fintech deal-maker, author, investor and thought-leader. 

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.

Why the Third Wave of Fintech is fundamentally different

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My career began in the middle of Wave 1. It is hard to see this as exciting and disruptive today, but it was at the time. We were replacing paper process with computerised processes and the payoff was huge. The business model was KISS – develop software and license it to banks. All the risk/reward went to banks. There was not much VC in those days, so we bootstrapped from customer revenues.

Wave 2 is what we have been calling Emergent Fintech(vs Traditional Fintech = Wave 1). Wave 2 leveraged the SMAC technologies (Social Mobile Analytics Cloud) that had reached mainstream adoption. Startups beat incumbents by creating better User Experience (UX). It was only a question of time before incumbents caught up by creating better UX. During the time when incumbents were playing catchup, some Fintech startups got to critical mass and network effects and so become long term winners. However, many Emergent Fintech startups do not have any major moat against incumbents.

I use 2014 as the watershed year as a) 2014 was the year of the Lending Club IPO which was high water mark of Wave 2 and b) 2014 was when Ethereum was born, and Ethereum is a big enabler of Wave 3.

Wave 2 could be easily coopted by incumbents. It was an era of pugnacious public talk, but with private negotiations around partnership and collaboration. Banks needed startups and vice versa. Wave 3 is harder for incumbents to control. It is not being financed by incumbent VCs and this wave of ventures need less capital, because they  don’t need to buy giant server farms in order to scale (the user’s machines are the servers).  There is still a lot of opportunity for incumbents to add value, but they do not control the pace of change.

A lot of the activity around “enterprise blockchain” is an attempt by incumbents to get back to the “good old days” of Wave 1 when they controlled the pace of change. As Andreas Antonopolous points out, the conversation with Banks starts with “we are not interested in Bitcoin, more in the underlying Blockchain technology”. Then when Blockchain technology becomes divided into permissioned and permissionless, the conversation shifts to ““we are not interested in Blockchain, more in the underlying Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT)”. At that point they take a call from their favoured enterprise software vendor about their latest version with its DLT features. This would be like Kodak upgrading their ERP system to deal with the disruption from digital photography.

The ICO innovation was to raise money without selling securities. You get customers to buy your coins which they can use to buy your products. That is a “back to the future” world. It is like Wave 1 when we financed from customer revenue. This puts entrepreneurs fully in control. The incumbent can no longer call a VC and say “we would like to buy Company X in your portfolio”.


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Bernard Lunn is a Fintech deal-maker, author, investor and thought-leader. 

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.


Aigang brings ICO gold rush to Insurtech with a plausible blockchain concept


Call it double disruption. Real time claim to cash using blockchain could disrupt Insurance. That is disruption number one. ICOs could replace large parts of the traditional innovation capital business – early stage VC and IPOs.  That is disruption number two.

That makes Aigang an interesting concept to study. The fact that it is only concept – not a product, let alone a profitable business – is part of the second disruption story.

Tigger is all excited about how all this innovation will create a better world. Eeyore says this will all end in tears. ICO speculators shovel in cash to make a quick buck while retweeting  Tigger. Eeyore sits on the sidelines waiting to be able to say “I told you so” and buy later for pennies on the dollar.

Who is right here?

To help initiate a conversation, this post looks at the:

  • Concept
  • Technology
  • Team
  • Jurisdiction
  • The deal for “investors”

The concept – real time claim to cash for small claims

Conceptually this makes sense. This post explains why claim to cash time is so critical and why blockchain based smart contracts is the enabler. The post was written in May 2016 and Aigang was formed in 2017 so they may have read it or simply tuned into the same innovation radio waves. This bit explains the basics:

“Auto Payout Based on a Trustless Smart Contract

This holds out a win/win promise. Customers know that payout is automatic and immediate (no more hassling for payout during the most stressful times when the bad event has actually happened). Insurance companies get two benefits:

Elimination of fraud. The Insurance company does not rely on the customer’s version of truth. There is independently verified data.

Elimination of claims processing cost. This is a consequence of elimination of fraud.

For this to work, it has to be binary simplicity. An algo has to make a yes/no decision instantly. Something with complexity (such as who is at fault in an accident or whether a medical procedure is covered) needs human intervention.

One example of where we see that binary result is flight insurance. The flight was either cancelled or it was not. Blockchain systems use external data sources (e.g via the Oraclize service ) to get this proof of what happened. A Proof Of Concept for this flight insurance use case was coded during a weekend at a hackathon using Ethereum – proving that technical risk is not the prime concern.

We expect to see lots of use cases where this binary rule applies where really low cost insurance can be offered (thanks to elimination of fraud and claims processing). This is classic disruption at the edge – where disruption usually gets traction. For example, there are lots of use cases within the sharing economy. These are on demand or just-in-time insurance use cases.”

Aigang is going after a sensible early market in the “really low cost insurance” segment – mobile phone batteries. It is small enough to enable real time settlement and” human real time” (less than a few seconds) changes user behaviour.

It looks like Aigang can get the battery data automatically from your mobile device. Yes this is also an IOT play. Eeyore was heard muttering about random buzzword generators – ICO, Blockchain, IOT, Insurtech, but Tigger responded by saying that the concept makes sense.

The investors will be P2P. The crowd will be the new Lloyds Names. Hmm, how does that fit with Solvency 2? Will the crowd take unlimited liability like Lloyds Names? This can only work outside the regulatory framework.

The technology

Ethereum – brilliant plaform, still with bleeding edge risk. As Aigang put it:

“Built on Ethereum testnet, the application is not fully functional yet, and there are chances that the users attempting to send funds from their Ethereum wallet could lose their funds.”

On the plus side, they do have a fairly active GitHub as per Token Market.

What is your risk appetite? This has technology risk at the platform level and at the application level. If you don’t really understand Ethereum or trust somebody who does, this is not for you.

The team

They look good on pixel. But they have not got a product in the market, so that is all one can say. One assumes they are all getting paid in equity and tokens. If the ICO succeeds they will become a real team.

They also offer “bounties” to contributors. No, I did not ask for or want a bounty for writing this post.  This is like 1999 when landlords would take equity for rent.

The jurisdiction

Singapore. One assumes Aigang will block IP addresses from America and make big bold signs saying “no Americans please” in order to stay out of SEC clutches.

This is far outside the regulated world. This is not a sandbox experiment. Aigang  plan to offer a product outside the regulated world. This post by a VC in 2014 explains why this strategy makes sense drawing on lessons from Skype.

The deal

This is not being revealed yet. In ye olde innovation capital game, a concept stage venture with  MVP still in development like Aigamg would raise $50k to $500k. $50k would be for a first time entrepreneur. $500k would a proven entrepreneur wired to top Angels and VCs. Two years later, 10%  of these would do a $5m Series A and a year later about 50% during loose money times would do a a $50m Series B. Aigang will probably raise $50m out of the gate.

Will it be a great deal for token  investors? I doubt it. Maybe for equity investors who have a lot of appetite for risk and if the price is right.

Will it change the world and unleash a new wave of Insurance claim to cash innovation using Blockchain? I think so.

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Bernard Lunn is a Fintech deal-maker, investor, author and thought-leader.

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.

Wrap of Week #29: Bitcoin, digital wallets, agile auditing, Zhong An IPO, AI Fraud Detection

Monday –  The Blockchain Bitcoin & Crypto Weekly CXO Briefing – South Korea Officially Legalizes Bitcoin, $7 Million Lost in CoinDash ICO Hack, Interview with Vinny Lingham of Civic.

Tuesday – Wealthtech – are digital wallets fashion accessories or platforms for innovation?

Wednesday – SME Finance – Michelle Moffatt the agile fintech auditor from Australia

Thursday – Insurtech – Will Zhong An follow the same post ipo trajectory as lending club

Friday – Consumer Banking/Finance – Fraud detection using AI and Mastercards acquisition spree

The 10 most active conversations on the Fintech Genome platform

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所有的事情等于正白,逆风和顺风推动价值。但是,一个新的超音速飞机将改变结果和新的平板可能需要不同类型的试点再培训或至少。超音速飞机将削减行车时间约NYLON 3小时。超音速飞机的保险相当于将使用blockchain(魁我们讨论了很多次,这里一个例子)几乎实时结算。

中安清楚地认识这一点,并在Blockchain进行投资。所以,我不希望被傻了眼中安blockchain。当这两个高科技和调节准备好了,我希望中安将准备。最关键的是,这两个技术和监管需要做好准备 – 就像用超音速飞机。这是一个领域,我相信,中安将得到它的权利,因为在中国连大公司和政府一起工作étroitement。


借贷俱乐部DID年IPO $ 15,飞涨近$ 20,然后坠毁于$ 3.51的历史低点(如果我很幸运后,发布该买)。现在大约是$ 5.20,我卖我的股票(贷款俱乐部是一个伟大的公司,目标估值现在比其他的机会较少引人注目的)。

我没有贷款克伦在IPO投资,因为我的水平基本夸我张贴在这里有保留。在$ 15,有没有错误的余地。在$ 3.51的价格隐含阙乐型号全死了,球队被无能,既不夸的是真实的。