Tuesday, February 19, 2019 06:59PM / OpEd By Ekerete Ola Gam-Ikon* / GreenBook Blog
The greatest challenge of mankind is immobility. We were created to move and keep moving, and trying to demobilize us can have dire consequences. So it is with things that involve human beings, such that, if a thing is not moving or perceived to be moving, we will abandon it and get on with what is moving.
Once you understand this natural law, you will understand how we have arrived in this digital era where digitalization is not just replacing analogue system but affecting every aspect of our lives from the way we talk to the way we trust.
However, life is a process, so everything you see came from somewhere and we are going some other place with it, this time, even without physically moving.
To Digital Natives...
While so many people across the world are yet moving, quite a number have also accepted that you can do so much in this age with simply digitizing what you usually move around to do.
The question for the insurance industry in Nigeria therefore is: How involved have you been in the developmental process that has landed us in digitalization?
Prior to digital technology there were computer technology, information technology, communication technology, mobile technology and now, financial technology but more specifically, insurance technology!
In these various transitions, there has been a growing community of young people (millennials) who, thanks to globalization, have become digital natives!
They, basically, live online and do their things in real time, staying connected to the rest of us, thanks to the techies who studied them, understood their needs and provided them, sometimes beyond their expectations.
They are engaged online by reputable organisations to, amongst other things, keep their customers, distract their competitors and understand the cyberspace. Some are even engaged as hackers and mystery shoppers and handsomely paid on regular basis.
Most of the time, these digital natives face huge risks particularly cyber crime and respond by creating cloud computing solutions which ensures that "everything is beyond human reach".
The need for their services increases by the minute yet we can begin to look at it from this point and ask: How many of them are engaged by insurance companies, and in Nigeria?
If the answer is very few, as I have found out, their need for engagement have not been met.
As premium-paying customers, these digital natives are relatively few thus showing the path for potential increase in premium generated, if their needs are rightly identified and addressed by product innovation and digitalization.
If their critical need is cyber security and the local insurers lack the capacity to respond, some industry watchers need to understand that this is one major reason you have increasing interest by global insurance brands in our market today.
The other reason is our national investment in infrastructural development led by multinational corporations that would rather deal with their insuring partners.
Unmet Insurance Needs
Will the digital natives need Life Assurance, Travel and Health Insurance and Professional Indemnity Insurance? Of course, but they will prefer to buy one that offers global cover in internationally accepted currency which can hardly be affected by inflation and exchange rates.
So, this situation would probably leave the local insurers continuing to offer only legally-backed (compulsory) insurances to organizations and governments as we have today where 80% of our premium income is sourced from corporate accounts.
Where the digital natives have the power of decision-making even in these corporate entities, we should expect that the insurers will either be partly foreign-owned or strategically associated with foreign brands.
Quite unfortunately, as earlier pointed out, there were no deliberate steps by most insurers to get involved in the process of technology transition. Even as a way of building local capacity, there was too much emphasis on recapitalization that we seem to forget that such capital was meant for investment in technology and may be, these digital natives.
Given the population of digital natives in Nigeria, judging by the size of our internet users and mobile (smartphone) users, the insurance industry will do well to advance conversations on how best to engage them especially as the segment of the population that brought the industry thus far is aging.
We look forward to the time soon enough when insurance, like banking and other financial services, would be in our hands even as the operators of the digital economy are working seriously on taking mobile phones and other handhelds away from us.
Thankfully, intelligent technologies are available to all of us.
About The Author
Ekerete Olawoye Gam-Ikon, MNIM, CPP is a management consultant with specialization in Strategy and Insurance. He can be reached vide telephone on +234-806-648-1111 and +234-802-585-0344 or by e-mail vide firstname.lastname@example.org