AXA’s Singapore-based ‘insurance as a service’ model, selling insurance policies digitally, is extending into commercial lines. The insurer is now integrating with Singapore’s customs authority to service trade finance, facilitated through a new payments rail.
AXA is the first company to go live on the government’s Network Trade Platform (NTP), an electronic marketplace built by Singapore Customs as a central repository for trade-related data and services such as tax, financing and insurance. The government expects freight forwarders, banks and shippers to also sign up.
Although the platform could cover air and rail, most of the business is aimed at shipping.
From retail to commercial
Tomasz Kurczyk, head of digital transformation at AXA, says the NTP integration is part of the firm’s drive to extend its digital touchpoints from retail sales to commercial ones, particularly to small-sized businesses.
This is being done in tandem with AXA Affiliates, a unit that works with the travel industry, among others, to incorporate insurance into corporate offerings. Using IaaS means Affiliate clients can eliminate tedious paperwork around things like KYC, licensing terms and contracts.
The insurer wants to use APIs from its IaaS platform to connect with importers and exporters.
This proved our concept to do open insurance
Tomasz Kurczyk, AXA
“We have momentum on the retail side,” Kurczyk said, saying now about 90% of new retail-business transactions, and 20% of new retail revenues, take place online. “We have high expectations for commercial lines.”
AXA already has relationships with agents shippers and freight forwarders; now it just wants to streamline those electronically. “The product is the same, we’re just making it seamless,” Kurczyk said.
The opportunity with Singapore Customs is a sign of things to come, he says. “This proved our concept to do open insurance, where you build the ecosystem and integrate with other players,” he said.
From trade finance to payments
Users of AXA’s IaaS subscribe to the platform, and then can opt in to share data such bills of lading, metadata, and the financing documentation. Having everyone contribute this information delivers transparency and ease of use for any goods coming in and out of Singapore’s harbor.
The promise of speedier, hassle-free processing means more players will include their data – which in turn will give AXA access to information that will aide its underwriting capabilities. This could lead to new products in niche services that traditional, structured data could not support, either for corporations, agents or brokers.
Ultimately the insurer expects to use these digital tools to attract more partners, and thereby generate scale. Having a platform also makes it easier for agents to standardize their sales, instead of having to create bespoke solutions per corporate client.
This proliferation of corporate counterparties, including those sourced from AXA Affiliates, has led AXA into the payments business. If an airline, for example, wanted to integrate a payment into an insurance contract, it would have to have a bilateral setup with the insurer’s systems. This was becoming a problem as more companies were interfacing with their customers through e-wallets or new direct-debit systems.
AXA therefore built AXAPay, which uses algorithms to help clients select the optimal payment channel for a given product or country. This has been incorporated into its IaaS platform, so as more companies use it, they have broader access to payment channels. IaaS currently supports 10 payment and settlement protocols.
This makes it a lot easier to woo large companies, which might not want to adopt a digital platform to get insurance if it’s an operational nightmare.