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Insuring the future

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Liberty has recently launched a new generation insurance product that uses telematics, chatbots and new technology, allowing for enhancements to be made in real life.

Imagine a future where ‘simple, flexible and  transparent’ are words you would use to describe the service you receive from your insurer.  What if the quick, friendly exchange that made your day was with a robot that processed your claim with lightning speed using a friendlier and easy-to-use platform?

That scenario is not as far-fetched as it sounds.  In fact, it is what you can expect from Liberty’s Short-term insurance offering, which has been developed together with our underwriter Standard Insurance Limited (SIL).

The short-term insurance market in South Africa is extremely competitive but we identified a gap for a fully digital offering a while ago. The number of digitally savvy consumers who bank, shop and make payments online is growing rapidly and they expect simplicity, convenience and innovation from other products and services, including insurance.  That is certainly true of our current and prospective customers. We are therefore launching a Short-term insurance business that meets the needs of our customers.

Together with SIL we are building a new generation insurer that uses telematics, chatbots and other cutting-edge technology which allows enhancements to be made in real time.  Thus ensuring our products and services are agile and evolve with time as the circumstances and aspirations of our clients change.

With the distinct make up of our offering, we have truly brought the concept of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to life. AI which is based on the idea of building machines capable of thinking, acting, and learning like humans allows for a business and brand such as Liberty to respond more effectively and efficiently.

We have developed a bot (a web robot based on a software application that runs automated tasks over the internet) that has a personality; it is intuitive and learns with each customer interaction so that it can classify, identify and understand customer needs. And it can also deliver a firm quote within five minutes.

The Liberty Short-term insurance’s value proposition will appeal to digitally savvy professionals as well as to people who want to experience exceptional service without the excessive bureaucratic rigmarole. Many of the targeted consumers have grown up with technology and readily embrace telematics and chatbots, which are revolutionising financial services around the world.

Buying insurance can be intimidating for younger drivers and bots can make the experience easier and friendly.  Traditionally, younger drivers also pay more for their car insurance premiums but that’s changing, thanks to telematics. Demonstrating you’re a safe driver regardless of your age makes premiums affordable. Research has also shown that drivers don’t mind sharing data if it comes with benefits.

In our case, we will be offering a significant discount based on a ‘driving test’ that measures driver behaviour over a two week period. The premium reduction kicks in after (within 2 weeks/ 300km) the test is successfully completed and will apply for the remainder of the year until renewal.  All clients will need, is a mobile phone and the Liberty’s Short-term insurance app, which they will also need, to access emergency services.  However, customers can engage on any digital channel, including Facebook Messenger, to get a quote, make a claim and to service their policy.

We are starting off with car insurance, but we are planning to broaden our offering later this year.   We will leverage SIL’s existing claims-handling capabilities with a dedicated Liberty Short-term insurance team to service the Liberty customer base.

As for the future, we are excited by the power and flexibility of the technology we’re deploying and the freedom to explore new features, guided by customers’ needs and wants.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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