Insurtech influencer Spiros Margaris on the difference between classic insurers and insurtechs.
Spiros Margaris, venture capitalist (Margaris Ventures), senior advisor to insurtech company wefox Group (raised a record $125 million Series B round in March 2019) and leading influencer in fintech, AI, and blockchain, on the old and new insurance worlds.
What are the differences between classic insurers and insurtechs?
S.M: Such differences include, for example, that insurtechs have no large workforce and no legacy like expensive old IT systems. With costly legacies, there’s not much left for innovation. That's why insurtech start-ups are much more agile and why insurers also enter into partnerships with insurtechs. Insurers have the customers, the capital, and the data, while insurtechs have the innovative products and solutions.
Do the "old” classic insurers have a future?
S.M: Without change? No. You have to renew—there's no going back. In addition to insurtechs, there are tech giants like Apple, Amazon, or Google, who are opening up new markets or at least want to do so, including in the worlds of finance and insurance.
“The losers will be those who are too small, don't have the money, and move forward too slowly.”
Some insurers will disappear, as has already happened in the banking world, and the downward trend will accelerate even faster.
What do insurtechs do better?
S.M: They’re closer to life and recognize new consumer needs faster. Everything is changing: work models, living environments, partnerships, mobility, and leisure time. Young people, in particular, want personalized online insurance products and as little bureaucracy as possible. This can only be solved technically, for example by automated travel protection based on GPS data (ONE Insurance) or pay-as-you-go solutions. Thanks to their agility, insurtechs can cover modern customer needs much faster.
What skills do good insurtechs need?
S.M: On the one hand, good insurtechs need technological skills in areas such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), and Big Data; on the other hand, they need insurance competence and entrepreneurship. The right mix is the best way to meet the needs of your customers. Don't forget: insurance companies are complex entities and operate in a highly regulated environment. Last, they need top executives who are capable of making the right strategic decisions.
There are many Insurtech companies — who will survive?
S.M: What’s happening now is that investors are preferring to support start-ups that have already established themselves—such as the wefox Group, which has just raised fresh capital with a record Series-B round of 125 million USD. Ninety percent of new start-ups will disappear again, but new ones are coming, too. There are enough young people who want to try and become the next big start-up.
In Europe, the data protection discussion is much more pronounced than in Asia or the USA. With what consequences?
S.M: In fact, data protection isn’t an issue in countries like China. We Europeans think differently and don’t want to lose sovereignty over our data. One consequence could be that European companies will not be among the big winners of the digital transformation. wefox Group founder Julian Teicke recognized early that data sovereignty is a central issue. A customer's personal responsibility and full control over his/her data are Teicke’s top priorities. Customers must have the benefit of deciding how and when they share personal information. Transparent and simple solutions are the best way to convince customers to join the startup journey.
Spiros Margaris: "I'm independent."
With over 55 million Twitter engagements and over 73,000 Twitter followers, Swiss investor and senior advisor Spiros Margaris is the world's leading influencer in fintech, AI, insurtech, and blockchain according to Onalytica. He also sits on the Advisory Board of the wefox Group.
S.M: "I’m privileged to have access to the most important people in my industry. That I can work with the best in the fintech, AI and insurtech industry is the fruit of my success. I’ve a good sense of where the trend is heading, and I’m an independent voice for decision-makers. We’re like a football team: everyone has to play in the right position and at the highest level, in every game. Honesty and transparency are important.
That I'm independent helps to remain objective when you advise stakeholders. And I further stay objective by sharing comments and articles by other thought leaders on my Twitter (@SpirosMargaris) account that I don't necessarily agree with but that are well argued and have great insights. To stay at the top, you have to work even harder—in my case, seven days a week. Consistency is important for me and my work. I also know what defeat means and that makes me a better advisor. I've never been happier in my life. Now I'm Spiros Margaris, who does what he likes the most. I’ll not let this fire go out."
Spiros Margaris, venture capitalist and senior advisor (wefox Group), is the founder of Margaris Ventures, and is the first international influencer to achieve ‘The Triple Crown’ ranking. He was ranked the international № 1 FinTech, Blockchain, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) influencer by Onalytica. He regularly appears in the top three positions of established global industry influencer rankings. He is a speaker at international FinTech, and InsurTech conferences. He also gave a TEDxAcademy Talk. He published an AI white paper, “Machine learning in financial services: Changing the rules of the game,” for the enterprise software vendor SAP.