Social proof insurance on the blockchain: interview with Matt Peterman, co-founder of InsurePal

What happens if you draw a venn diagram intersecting the new, rapidly innovating world of blockchain, with the time-honoured, stable, even “boring” world of insurance? This is what we set out to discover in this exclusive interview with Matt Peterman, co-founder of InsurePal, a new business that has recently closed an $18m ICO on the promise of developing peer-to-peer insurance based on social proof endorsements.

Thanks for speaking with us Matt – could you tell us the story of how InsurePal got started?

[Matt Peterman:] Thank you for taking the time to interview me. The insurance industry is all about dealing with trust and risk, and we actually think people are pretty good at this between themselves… it just gets less accurate and more difficult when you do it at scale without a human face. So in 2015 we identified the science of social proof as a possible solution and invested close to $500,000 to develop our model and web app demo, filing a patent in the US and worldwide.

Calibrated mathematical algorithms confirmed that our model brings from 30% up to 70% cost reduction. We pitched the idea in Silicon Valley but ended up refusing an offer of several million dollars in order to be able to develop InsurePal on our own terms.

After conducting our methodology and viability assessment, and a legal review of the project, we identified the missing piece: blockchain. Our core team are mostly people with a background in the financial and insurance industry – we have a really strong insurance knowledge base – and we held several meetings with cryptocurrency think-tanks. We are working on making the InsurePal platform the global “go-to” solution for social proof insurance, leveraging blockchain technology.

You mentioned you’ve patented your solution for “social proof for the insurance industry” – can you summarize the technology involved?

The InsurePal platform improves risk selection, segmentation, and trust. For the end user, the InsurePal decentralized app will serve as an entry point to our insurance ecosystem, and we set up white label partnerships so businesses can sell social proof insurance. We feel that the social proof idea will reshape insurance back to its roots.

Decentralization is a key change we see coming to many technologies, and it’s great for insurance. Blockchain technology has three different but complementary definitions:

  1. Technically, the blockchain is a back-end database that maintains a distributed ledger that can be inspected openly;
  2. Business-wise, the blockchain is an exchange network that operates 24/7 and allows you to move value peer-to-peer without the assistance of intermediaries;
  3. Legally speaking, the blockchain can be seen as a validation mechanism for transactions, replacing middlemen.

Having that in mind, blockchain technology can add significant value. Here are a few areas we can improve:

  • insurance conditions and automated claims processing through smart contracts;
  • a reliable and transparent payment mechanism for the client;
  • identity check (KYC/AML) and better fraud control;
  • bringing to market innovative insurance product offerings.

Regarding new insurance products, we’ve seen a lot of ideas realized recently: property CAT XL (a type of excess of loss reinsurance), flight delay insurance, crop insurance, drone insurance, smart car and smart home insurance, and battery insurance. Social-proof based insurance is another of these rapidly emerging areas of innovation.

What does this all mean for consumers?

Well, we can say that insurance is boring. How many times a year do you interact with insurance company? As seldom as possible, right?

We want to change that and build a community that has common goals regarding lifestyle, for example diligent drivers who want to be rewarded for their habits. Social proof is a natural, in-built mechanism within all of us, where we reference the behaviour of others to guide our own actions.

InsurePal translates social proof into a form of financial commitment. An endorser financially guarantees someone, and to do this they use their own due diligence since the risk is losing their money. Through many such endorsements and guarantees, the network as a whole whole becomes more risk aware, and will actually encourage a change in people’s behaviour.

We anticipate that the InsurePal platform will serve as a replacement for many types of insurance as we know today, and offer completely new types of coverage for areas of life and business that are emerging rapidly in a digital world.

The magazine Insurance CIO Outlook has ranked InsurePal in the top 10 blockchain solution providers in 2018

What does your roadmap look like?

We launched the InsurePal token (IPL) crowd sale on 16th January 2018, and closed it successfully in the first 80 seconds!

Before and since that public sale, we’ve been hard at work in both R&D and marketing. We have a pilot project in the UK which also involves some global services and at the end of the summer social proof modules will be ready for testing with our community. While we are setting up token economics a lot of blockchain knowledge will need to be integrated in our solution.

On the other side, extensive legal and regulatory preparations are ongoing, with our goal to obtain an EU passport license and join the FCA global sandbox. Beyond this, we will be seeking partnerships with interested third parties, and from a PR point of view all InsurePal activities will be promoted on a global scale.

Our roadmap can be found on our website at: https://insurepal.io/roadmap

InsurePal have set up offices in London with an eye on the excellent global fintech and insuretech ecosystem here

 

With the experience you’ve gained so far in the brand new world of blockchain technology, what’s your outlook and advice for fellow entrepreneurs?

One thing is certain: in the blockchain business, there is always something new happening! Basically it’s going to affect everything: if you run through predictions for how things work in the year 2025, you’re going to have cryptocurrency banks and crypto-insurance companies, DAO will be a generally accepted company structure, we will use digital wallets, business logic and contracts will be recorded on blockchains, digital securitization of goods will become the norm (gold, diamonds, physical property)…

Would you like more? Medical documentation will be available on blockchains, laws and restrictions will be directly checked on the blockchain, taxes will be calculated and paid on the blockchain, stock exchanges will use blockchains to validate transactions and traders will use them as a means of payment, the decentralized protocol will become commonplace, special blockchain browsers will be developed, the language of smart contracts will prosper, open source protocols will gain, university programs of cryptography and game theory will prosper, decentralized cloud computing will gain…

So what can we sum up? One needs to stay flexible for 100% change from the position which is known today.

Doing business in an environment like this takes even more effort than the usual entrepreneurial life. My advice: be flexible and run towards your goals or others will get there first!


To learn more about InsurePal, visit https://insurepal.io/ and follow @InsurePal_io on Twitter.

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