How a 30-years-old CEO aims to modernise legacy systems after her father’s death
Author: Wang Yanhua
After a successful initial coin offering in March, where Policypal raised over USD 20 million, founder and CEO Val Yap has been busy with running her blockchain-based insurance mobile app and forming new partnerships.
Block Asia caught up with her at Blockchain Festival Vietnam, where Yap appeared as a keynote speaker.
Yap started the company two years back. “I was in financial services and insurance banking. I found out about blockchain based on experiences in the Fintech scene, and got to know more about the technology,” she told Block Asia.
TURN OF LIFE EVENTS
Yap grew up in Singapore and moved to London for her undergraduate studies, but a turn of life events brought her back to Singapore.
Yap said, “I moved back because my mum was diagnosed with cancer. Thankfully she recovered. Afterwards, I realised that it was a nightmare handling the insurance documents. It was all paperwork, and it was not managed properly. Her insurance was rejected in the end.
“Within the same year my dad passed away due to a heart attack. I had to call up customer service of various insurance companies one by one to check if he had an insurance plan.”
Insurance is an industry that still widely uses legacy systems, with a heavy reliance on paper-based processes. Besides posing extreme inconveniences to many, that seems highly incompatible with the modern way of life, and Yap is determined to modernise the industry.
“Throughout those two experiences I realised that insurance touches everyone’s lives, but people only encounter it in less fortunate times, so I want to help them and make the process easier,” she told Block Asia.
Yap’s company Policypal is also the first company that emerged from the Fintech Regulatory Sandbox, a policy by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
MAS introduced this policy against the backdrop of a rapidly evolving Fintech landscape to encourage more experimentation. Promising innovations can be tested in the market within a well-defined space and have a chance for wider adoption.
Yap told Block Asia, “I wanted to take the company to the next level, which is becoming a digital insurance broker because our user base is growing. To do that, we had to get a licence.
“Afterwards, we got to work much more closely with insurance companies and also consumers.”
HOW POLICYPAL WORKS
Yap explained to Block Asia how the app works in simple terms, “We did a token sale. Our token holders are able to suggest insurance products, and then it will be on the dashboard where our insurance partners will be picking the types of insurance product they want to do the underwriting.
“On the protocol, the policy will be placed on the smart contract, so policy inception will be instant.
“Token holders can also launch a virtual peer-to-peer pool based on what products they want to be insured for, and they can refer their friends to join the pool to get bonus rewards for any policy accepted.”
Yap also aims to build a Policypal blockchain, with the testnet out in early 2019.
“The whole system is rather traditional and paper-based. To fundamentally solve the issue, we want to rebuilt the whole system on the blockchain. It would be more scalable and policies can be transacted instantly, instead of having to rely on Ethereum, which can be slow.”
BENEFIT TO THE INDUSTRY
Changes in the marketplace and client expectations put the pressure on insurance companies to modernise the way they run.
Few insurers have the luxury of clinging to the past. Yet, insurers who are contemplating legacy replacement need to understand the costs and challenges.
Policypal seeks to address this problem faced by insurers.
Yap said, “As we build the ecosystem, the insurance companies are able to leverage on the protocol that we have built, so they don’t have to create new technologies for things such as claims automation themselves.
“The insurance companies now have access to a new group of customers too.”
Policypal has a steadily expanding user base, from 1,200 in 2016 to over 40,000 in Singapore now. It is also looking at opportunities in other Southeast Asian countries that are experiencing high growth of insurance penetration.
The energetic 30-years-old told Block Asia, “I still have a lot more work to do.”