Africa can leapfrog tech innovation, says Allianz CEO at Insurance Conference


CEO of Allianz SE Oliver Bäte, today opened the 44th annual Insurance Conference in Sun City, South Africa, with a keynote address on the conference theme “Disrupt, Debate, Deliver”. In his address, Bäte addressed the profound transformation of the insurance industry wrought by digitalisation.

“In today’s fast changing world, it’s critical to innovate quickly and to change course rapidly if necessary. The insurance industry, like other customer service industries, is transforming because of the all-encompassing impact of digitalisation on our lives. Customers have new expectations, a growing number of disruptors are taking the stage and new megatrends, such as artificial intelligence (AI), voice-based smart assistants (i.e. ‘Alexa’), telematics, wearables and drones are fundamentally changing the traditional insurance model,” he explained.

“We are completely rethinking the way we serve our customers, not least because of the competition posed by disruptors from the fin-/insuretech space, who have an impressive facility with mobile technology and analytics. Today’s customers will choose a product primarily because it’s easy to use, transparent in terms of price and quality, and personalized – and because it’s available to them via the digital channels they want it from” said Bäte.

Digital natural in Africa

“While traditional markets, such as Europe, are struggling with their digital transformation process, Africa is digital by nature. Mobile is the fastest growing sector and innovation enabler on the continent with an expected 1.2 billion African subscribers by 2018.”

“By leveraging the Internet and mobile penetration, African countries can leapfrog innovation. African customers will rightfully demand and drive insurance innovation in Africa as they expect offerings and channels to be fully digitalised. This, and the fact that rules and regulations are favorable for innovation in financial services, puts Africa in a great position to become the digital insurance leader of the future.”

A ‘Single Digital Agenda’ to meet disruption

To transform Allianz into a truly customer-centric, ‘digital by default’ company, the Group established a Single Digital Agenda. Allianz is spending over €700 million ($800 million) annually on shaping and orchestrating the digitalization of its 127-year-old business.

The ‘Single Digital Agenda’ is a portfolio of change initiatives built on five pillars, the cornerstone being the Allianz ‘Global Digital Factory’, a place where experts from all parts of the company rethink customer journeys from our various business segments and make them globally scalable.

The second is ‘Global Digital Partnerships’ to foster collaboration with tech and sharing economy companies.

The third is ‘Digital Pure Play’, the conception of 100% digital insurance and assistance offerings.

The fourth is ‘Advanced Business Analytics’ with the aim to increase customer satisfaction and the effectiveness of the business. And the fifth is ‘Allianz X’, a fund and incubator, for which the company has set aside €430 million ($500 million) over the next four years.

The fund invests in promising start-ups that are part of ecosystems relevant to the business, such as connected property, connected mobility, health, asset and wealth management.

In Africa, Allianz will focus its digital activities on increasing customer reach in key growing markets, where insurance penetration is still low, and efficiency in markets with higher penetration.