AXA Singapore: bringing business services closer to the customer
“Our mission is to help customers protect their world and build their dreams,” says DJ De Villiers, CIO of AXA Singapore.
“You might be trying to protect your health and wealth but also live a certain lifestyle, save for education or retirement or buy a house, dreams you have for your future. That’s what we help people do, our core business is risk, helping people understand and navigate risk.”
A current trend across the financial services industry is simplification and data transformation and this is something that De Villiers recognises - customers across all industries are much more in control.
De Villiers points to Uber as the perfect example, where the power has shifted completely from the taxi drivers and into the hands of the passengers.
“In order to stay relevant and competitive it is essential, as a matter of survival, for large established financial services firms like AXA to get out of our comfort zone and go out there and meet our customers and give them what they want at their fingertips, which is what customers expect today,” says De Villiers.
“Customers are much more knowledgeable of the products available and everything is more accessible. They want more relevant services and products and they are not willing to wait for them anymore.”
New challengers in the market
Bringing AXA’s services and products closer to the customer is the driving force behind the company wide transformation, but there are both internal and external factors that brought upon change – namely, new entrants.
“The rise of new entrants in insurance space has applied pressure where we’ve recognised that there are more and more smaller companies now starting to come into the space. I think in the past there were very big barriers for entrants,” says De Villiers.
“What’s been happening is with the rise of technology companies on the internet, specifically about Fintech those barriers are much lower. They may not require as much capital; they can more rapidly get a very big distribution footprint. So the only thing they really need is an understanding of insurance products and risk. Those companies come with a better understanding of what customers want and how to have a good customer experience.”
The rest of this company profile can be found in the August issue of Business Review Australia & Asia.
Timeline: India takes unicorn leap with six in five days
We chart an historic week in India’s tech industry, where in just five days, between 5-9 April 2021, the country achieved six new unicorns, bringing India’s total to 10 in 2021 to date, an immense unicorn leap from just seven in 2020 and six in 2019.
April 5: Meesho
India’s first social commerce unicorn, Meesho raised US$300m from SoftBank, Facebook and Shunwei Capital, giving the Bangalore-based startup a US$2.1bn valuation, a threefold jump from its previous funding round in 2019. Founded in 2015 by two IIT-Delhi graduates, Meesho connects producers and resellers, helping small businesses sell through social media. It has 45m customers and has enabled 13m entrepreneurs to start their online businesses with no investment.
April 6: CRED
Founded just over two years ago, Bangalore-based credit card repayment app CRED raised US$215m from Falcon Edge Capital and Coatue, nearly trebling its valuation to US$2.2bn from its January US$80m round. Allowing customers to pay off their credit card debt while earning CRED coins which they cash in for rewards, CRED has grown rapidly during COVID-19, doubling its customer base to nearly 6 million in a year.
April 7: API Holdings / Groww
The first epharmacy startup to gain unicorn status, PharmEasy (API Holdings), which has digitised 60,000 brick and mortar pharmacies and 400 doctors across India, raised US$350m in a round led by Prosus Ventures. Founded by four former Flipkart employees as a way of making investing simple, investment platform Groww became India’s second-youngest fintech unicorn, raising US$83m in Series D funding led by Tiger Global, quadrupling its previous round in September.
April 8: ShareChat
New Delhi-grown social media startup ShareChat, founded in 2016 by Mohalla Tech raised US$502m from Lightspeed Ventures, Tiger Global, Twitter and Snap taking its raised total over six rounds to US$766m and pushing its valuation to US$2.1bn. The funding will be used to grow its user base and short video platform Moj, which launched in 2020 following TikTok’s ban in India. The regional language startup claims 280m users.
April 9: Gupshup
AI-led conversational message startup joined the unicorn club after raising US$100m from Tiger Global giving it a ten-fold valuation of US$1.4bn. The smart messaging platform, which has seen accelerated growth during the pandemic, was founded in Bangalore in 2005 by serial entrepreneur Beerud Sheth, whose online freelancing platform Elance is now listed. Gupshup’s API enables 100,000+ businesses to build messaging and conversation experiences across 30+ communication channels.