2 years ago at a Fintech hackathon at the London Business School my cofounder, Vishnu Chundi and I started what many refer to today as an InsureTech startup. We created something called AssetVault.
The idea was simple: “A secure and private online space to record your assets”. That is at least where we started…
Millions of pounds worth of insurable assets were recorded by thousands of customers across many countries. Data Privacy was important to us. We wanted for our customers, pretty much what we wanted for ourselves. No one other than “you” should have access to your data, unless explicitly given permission. This is the story of what we found out about our customers with their help, input, guidance, suggestions and complaints.
Though the process of building the business we had many inbound customer emails, countless coffees across all parts of London and even a few more organised qualitative feedback sessions from those logging those assets. Here is what we learnt from them:
Air Miles are important digital assets
Crypto has become so much more important in people’s portfolios given the meteoric rise of crypto currency values
Biological assets have a real place in our lives and there is a need to record where eggs are frozen to where cord blood from a delivery has been stored
Firearms are also collectables
Provenance and proof of ownership is a serious problem in the world of art
Digital collectables are a “thing” now; enter Cryptokitties (https://www.cryptokitties.co/)
There are few places where people can actually see a complete picture of their wealth across the ever growing classes of assets today
Being a part of the FCA Sandbox builds a lot of credibility with the end-customer (we successfully graduated from the Sandbox a few days ago and are now regulated by the FCA)
Real estate is by far the largest chunk of physical assets recorded by value and volume
Passwords as we knew them are on the way out, but have been substituted by a new kind of “access data or digital key” because of a convergence of biometrics, voice and a plethora of new technologies. People are concerned about how to store these
Our average customer has over 2 different insurance policies and that does not even cover all the warranty type of products; many remain “uncertain about their levels of protection”
Helping people catalogue their assets is a real business in itself
We continue to learn something new about customer needs everyday. At the end of the day our customers are also large businesses that believe in providing the utility of our products and services to their own end-customers.
We are what the market calls a “B2B business”, that is because we sell our products and services to other large corporates such as banks, insurers, asset managers, financial advisors, retailers and media companies.
AssetVault is currently a part of the Accenture Fintech Lab 2018 cohort and continues to gain validation from large Financial Services partners from around the globe; the programme has turbo charged our market access by introducing us to so many incredible organisations under one roof. A recommended experience even after Techstars and Mundi Labs for its reach and value. I started my career at Andersen Consulting and even today though I am not a part of the business I remain grateful for the value that Accenture brings to our team and fledgling business.
When we started going down this road to become the world’s largest asset repository we were out and about talking to people about the blockchain and there were no takers. No one really believed in the potential for the tokenisation of assets.
The world is a very different place today.
So many around the world are now personally invested in the success of “Blockchain” technology today. Lets leave aside the speculative group that rail against crypto-currencies each day, there are a large number of forces at play that are showcasing that what the institutional world call the “Distributed Ledger Technology” is here to stay. To an engineer like myself who started his career at Andersen Consulting building large Enterprise Data Warehouses (before there was the term “Big data”) and ended up as a strategy resource at a large European bank the idea of Blockchain permeating the world of finance and data seems like a natural conclusion.
The next chapter for us is about building out technology that will be able to keep pace with the future. The Swedish Land registry is a great example where, Lantmäteriet, has partnered with a startup and another consultancy to bring the future even closer by facilitating real estate transactions on the blockchain. While the UK lags Scandinavia around digital financial services, ‘the cheque’ for instance no longer exists in Norway, chances are that the next generation of leadership at our institutions will also seize the opportunity to dramatically save the tax payer costs and embrace the world of the blockchain.
Stay tuned to find out how we are poised to be ready and waiting to help those with assets both on and off chain and allow them to: Catalogue, Protect and Unlock the value of these assets.