Aditya Bhagat Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: Specialist start-ups are making the learning of financial products and service that much simpler for consumers. More so, as banks and insurance companies cannot reach out to everybody.

Aditya Bhagat, co-founder of BankBuddy, said that about 50 per cent of UAE residents don’t have life insurance because many are not able to reach out to the banks and insurers to get the right product at the right time.

“Financial inclusion and literacy is a very critical piece that can be solved using artificial intelligence (AI),” he said. “There are digital channels that talk their language and in the way they want to.”


Of UAE residents do not have life insurance

BankBuddy is a voice search function integrated into the Google Assistant. Many prospective clients hesitate to ask silly questions to a bank or insurer, Bhagat said. “We take care of all the abbreviations, slang and accent using natural language process. We give this software to the banks to operate on a subscription model.”

Stats show that about 20 per cent of all searches are voice based. People are using voice more because they are not comfortable typing in search queries.

Stuart Taylor, CEO of Turnkey IS Technologies, said the challenge is more in the mindset, and that there is a need to educate insurers to change and use technology to improve efficiency.

Turnkey is into insurance consultancy services and provides insurers with “IT as a service” products and solutions during the underwriting process.

Both BankBuddy and Turnkey are part of 22 start-ups for the 2018 accelerator programme under Fintech Hive and in partnership with Accenture.

Taylor said that his business provides cloud-based solutions for insurers to target their customers easily and vice versa. “We see a lot of opportunities in the UAE. Our product is quite different when compared to how platforms target customers in the west.

“We had a process where we get the insurers to think about the customer and not necessarily about the 110 things they need to know to provide you the price. What we do is ask about five questions and we do it in a way to get them to understand what is important for a price.”


Of all online searches are voice based

Turnkey uses IoT wherever there is an external source of data. “We use IoT to supplement the data to make it easier for an insurer to understand what the risk is when selling a product,” Taylor said. “Having better data at the front, insurers can forward plan better.”

The UK-based firm is going to work with insurers here and expects the platform to go live this year. “We got the technology, but we need some insurer to sit behind and say we can do the transaction now. Micro insurance markets have been growing quite some time, but hasn’t reached its full potential,” he said.

Bhagat said that humans are doing work that is supposed to be done digitally. For example, he said that if you want to change your address for insurance, you have to call the call centre or go to a website to figure it out.

“All these things can be done easily using artificial intelligence and that prompted us to improve the customer experience. We are solving (such issues in) retail banking, insurance, B2C, investment and corporate banking,” he said.

Right now, BankBuddy supports five languages — English, Arabic, French, Hindi and Kannada. A new language can be added in a matter of four weeks, he said.