Why We need to Innovate Insurance for the Next Half Billion In India, the insurance sector has a huge potential we just need to explore the virgin market

By Rohan Kumar

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It is a known fact that India is poised to be the world's youngest country by 2020. There is a significant part of this population that has so far been excluded and underserved. Change is coming, however, as this segment, the largest cohort in history, shifts to an online world via mobile phones. Today 3 of 4 adults have a mobile phone and it's expected that over 500 million first-time internet users will come online within the next five years; this group is the Next Half Billion.

Where is the Next Half Billion Coming From?

This population, poised to be digitally-driven, will lead to purposeful business innovation as the need to remain relevant rises. Two important components ensure services being realistically able to shift to an online model: affordability of data and the uptick of digital payments.

The lowering cost of data has narrowed the internet usage gap between different segments of society. Today data usage of a college student visa vie a rickshaw driver are comparable. Secondly, online transactions have been made simple and secure. This has enabled new pockets of the Indian diaspora to confidently conduct economic activities in a digital format. While almost 90% of all new businesses are basis an online model, even traditional industries need to go through a necessary disruption to adapt to an online outreach. Insurance is one such industry.

A necessary part of every healthy investment mix, insurance has remained a grey area for most of this underserved population. It is not only because the risk is not something that naturally crosses their minds, but it is also due to the layers of complexity its current format has, which gives it an unwarranted shrug. The problem remains that the industry needs to adapt to become a part of the user's lifestyle. It needs to be broken down, simplified and contextualised for consumers' day-to-day lives and their relatable risks.

Corporate ethos should be firmly planted in this belief. Early adoption of healthy financial practices is a good sign of a risk-averse population. However, these services also need to be designed basis a first-time user's requirement, making the onboarding process simple and easy to adopt. A more local approach is necessary, which understands the mindset and is willing to adapt.

Reaching The Next Half Billion

Digital is no longer an option. It must be the default. This cohort is comprised of mobile-first users. Creating both ease and context at the point of sale is required, capturing a market that would be otherwise unreachable. Price tiering positions products as tangible solutions. The economic gap between these users potentially will be wide. Organisations must empower the modern consumer financially, capturing them in a means that is native and feels organic.

While there is vast potential in the growing adoption of the mobile-based internet by this economic segment, they are still averse to transact online. There are other barriers in the form of language and relevance for people with lower purchasing power. Another important and wrongly neglected segment is women – who primarily use the mobile for entertainment and are yet to transcend to utilities online. Popular apps like PayTM are specifically targeting this segment and the results are promising. When insurance is also broken down into much lower investments for relatable risks we find earlier adoption and easy-to-prove benefits.

Insurance and financial services at large should be as easy as ordering a movie ticket online. Innovation is key in transforming the financial services and the insurance industry to serve the new India – the digital India which is no longer limited to a niche but has, in fact, become a medium to the mass.

Rohan Kumar

CEO & Co-Founder at Toffee

An entrepreneur, product marketer and senior executive, Mr. Rohan comes with 16 years of hands on market-entry & commercial strategy experience. He’s held leadership positions, spanning a range of growth-stage and fortune 500 companies, having secured commercial partnerships across 5 continents and managed a cross-cultural international team.

Launched Toffee, a bite size, micro-event & contextual insurtech startup in 2017 which aims to de-jargonize the insurance buying experience and letting individuals focus on what matters to them the most. He believes that this product can humanize insurance products towards a growing, yet neglected, young demographic.

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