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Britam banks on Sh3b platform to drive regional expansion, insurance uptake

FINANCIAL STANDARD
By Dominic Omondi | October 13th 2015

Britam has invested billions of shillings in an IT-driven business transformation project expected to automate operations and improve the customer experience.

The financial services firm, through its chief information officer, Jack Maina, has said it has invested over Sh3 billion in the project, dubbed Jawabu.

The company expects to change the face of the regional insurance market, where uptake of technology has become a strong driver of growth.

“The increased adoption of smartphones and IT is expected to boost business across various sectors in the region, and a project like Jawabu will ensure the insurance industry is not left behind,” Mr Maina said.

Curbing fraud

Besides increasing efficiency by up to 30 per cent across all operations, the project, once fully implemented, is also set to eliminate manual processes and introduce standardised, more efficient systems, leading to faster processing of claims.

It is also expected to reduce the expense ratio (the percentage of premium used to pay the costs of acquiring, writing and servicing insurance and reinsurance), cost and budgetary allocations and opportunities for fraud.

Britam, which is listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE), has interests across Eastern and Southern Africa, with offices in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Sudan, Mozambique and Malawi. It offers financial products and services in insurance, asset management, banking and property.

Future growth

“The Britam Strategy 2012-2016 identified aggressive growth initiatives, including regional expansion, going into new market segments and product diversification,” said Maina.

“Jawabu, in which Britam has deployed over 160 employees, is delivering the group’s strategy by increasing efficiency and implementing other strategic initiatives that support the achievement of others.”

According to him, the uptake of IT in Kenya and the region as a whole has best been exhibited in the telecommunications sector, but the fact that other areas, like health, education and insurance, are trying to catch up, reflects how crucial technology will be for future growth.

Jawabu is also expected to make Britam a lot more customer centric, as it focuses on delivering value, advanced analytics and real time systems that make interactions faster and more efficient.

“If we consider the insurance industry in Kenya, historically, it hasn’t been known to be tech-savvy. It hasn’t done well when it comes to leveraging IT or using it innovatively, unlike other players in the financial sector, such as banks. But this is bound to change when this project is fully implemented,” said Maina.

Jawabu will also enable self-service, cross-selling and multi-channel distribution capabilities once completed.

With the increased uptake of technology and mobile penetration across sub-Saharan Africa, Maina believes the online insurance market is going to be the next big thing, offering customers their preferred products at the click of a button.

Mobility will also be another area in insurance to watch out for in the coming months, he said.

“Whether it’s about mobile, cloud or analytics, technology will prove to be a key differentiator for insurance firms to acquire and retain customers, and achieve operational efficiencies. It is a big step for us in the right direction.”

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