By Sandhya D’Mello
Often it is the case that when most of us are signing up for credit card, loans, motor insurance and life insurance the one thing that we all want to end is the series of signatures one has to do along with the tedious paperwork because the consumers do not want to undergo the trouble of understanding what they are signing up for.
Dubai-based startup venture BankOnUs aimed at simplifying the complex and confusing world of banking and insurance. The venture was floated by Kirtan Desai, co-founder, BankOnUs and Dhruba Jyoti Sengupta, co-founder, BankonUs and Capstone Insurance a little over five months back and now delivers product comparisons for credit cards, personal loans, motor insurance, life insurance and health insurance.
“It is almost funny how a bank or insurer only recognises a customer after the product purchase process is complete.
Try calling their call centre if you are in the process of applying for a product and need to know the status of your application. These institutions will not be able to help you since you are not a customer yet. We at BankOnUs will be there in every step of the customer journey from the time he/she researches for a financial product to advice to documentation to updating him on the status of his application,” said Desai.
There are 46 banks and 58 insurance companies in the UAE, each having hundreds of product options and with so many products, acronyms and terms and conditions make it impossible for a customer to make informed, intelligent choices. BankOnUs addresses this specific requirement, by providing product choices in a precise and logical manner that helps customers make the correct purchase decisions. It takes away all the clutter and focuses on those details that matter most to the customer.
Customers looking to buy a credit card with a miles programme would like to know the worth of every mile they are earning, not just how many miles they have earned – most of us know that 100,000 Emirates Skywards miles are not the same as 100,000 Etihad Guest Miles. BankOnUs has a sophisticated algorithm that first converts the amount spend into the number of miles earned across various credit cards and then converts those miles into an amount value of tickets that can be purchased. This makes the decision process simple, fast and effective.
The venture has combined power of data and artificial intelligence that can deliver better services to customers. Desai informs that it’s a brave new world and AI-powered algorithms will disrupt the financial services industry to enable millions of customers make more informed decisions about the financial products on offer and also help institutions customise products for these customers.
“We analyse and get insights on how customers make product choices, spend, invest and make financial decisions, so we can customise the advice we give to our customers. We will also use this same data along with our banking and insurance partners to create and price products in the future. The days of mass product pricing will give way to customised pricing and bankonus hopes to drive this change. Insurance as an industry has always been driven by data.
Insurers strive to know as much as possible about a customer before pricing a product. However, they have limited themselves to grouping risk and pricing accordingly. Some of our algorithms will give new insights and enable customised modelling and pricing. The data we produce will help banks know where a customer resides, what car he drives and other alternate data that will ultimately analyse a user’s digital footprint and help banks to make better lending decisions,” added Desai, a banking industry veteran having spent more than 20 years in sales and distribution, product development and marketing across India and ME region.
The venture received seed funding of $1 million – in advanced discussions for $5 million funding for Series A – and has witnessed a lot of interest from both financial and strategic investors. Sengupta – a veteran with 20 years in the banking and insurance industry has worked on product and marketing across several EWMEA markets – said: “We like businesses where information is asymmetric.
None of us like to be a party to a transaction where the other side knows more than we do. Yet, with every financial product that is the case. The banks know more about the product they offer us and so does an insurance company. This is because financial institutions have thrived by making products complicated. The more complicated a product, more is the asymmetry of information.
The bank or insurance company will know more than we will. We are out to change that. Imagine the magic of every product being simplified for you to understand. Every card and loan and insurance product compared to its competitor based on the true value that a customer can derive from the product. Magic can and will happen when you will know as much about the card or loan or insurance as your banker or insurer. Every customer can bankonus to empower them.”
So how is BankOnUs different from its peers? BankOnUs has built a proprietary platform that uses dynamic content to deliver need based solutions to the customer. “The custom built algorithm identifies core product benefits and matches them with what customers are looking for in order to deliver a near perfect solution.
Think of our competition as digital version of a product brochure while we provide real insight on the value of these products enabled by our powerful AI driven algorithms. As we gather this data it will become invaluable for banks and insurers to develop new products and price them better. The age old models for credit underwriting will change as we will share new insights with our partner banks. Insurers we partner with will be able to offer products based on our predictive modelling,” said Sengupta.
Ashish Nanda, Seed Investor, said: “BankOnUs is the first model that has advanced algorithm and Artificial Intelligence in its core. Algorithm is used to simplify complex banking and insurance products. AI plays a huge role in optimising data to support financial education, product simplification and predictive modelling.
I was also impressed with the clear vison of the co-founders who are challenging the status quo in financial services industry. While financial insitutions continue to make products complex, these guys are on a mission to simplify the same for the benefit of customers. Customers across the GCC can benefit from this platform and can bankonus for unbiased advice.”
Endorsing similar positive sentiment, Minhaj Mehmood, Head of Technology, BankOnUs, said: “It is a unique opportunity to work in a FinTech company which simplifies the complicated world of finance. As a tech guy, working on complex algorithms behind bankonus.com got me excited. The powerful algorithms we developed helps the “little guy” to make sense of complicated products presented by banks and insurance companies.” – firstname.lastname@example.org