Business Finance Investment

Saurabh Tiwari : ‘Policybazaar to drive pivotal change in consumer behaviour’

Importantly, the amalgamation of digital and physical models has helped bridge the trust deficit for customers who have online research at their fingertips but prefer an offline purchase…reports Asian Lite News

The combination of physical and digital — phygital — model of operations helped new-age insurance firm PolicyBazaar in tapping the potential of unexplored markets, the company’s Chief Technology Officer(CTO) Saurabh Tiwari told.

The pandemic pushed up the life insurance penetration in India to almost the same as that of the global average. Policybazaar sees this trend as a “secular trend” and it believes it will continue to drive this “pivotal change in consumer behaviour”.

“The transience of life is a brutal reality that applies equally to everyone and Indians don’t have the comfort of standardised social security to turn to,” the CTO said adding that the pre-pandemic term insurance penetration rate, yet, painted a grim picture.

“However, the past two years of Covid-19 have helped break the inertia when it comes to the purchase of insurance products, especially term insurance. With digitisation facilitating ease of access and information, consumers are now better equipped to take charge of their financial decisions and secure their future with just a few clicks. More evidently, during the second wave, Google search in India for ‘term insurance’ was the highest in the last five years. That is considerably huge progress. This indicates a sharp rise in awareness and demand for insurance,” he said.

Asked how the company will ensure a seamless ‘phygital’ experience across both physical and digital worlds, the CTO said: “Our aim is to unify both these models to leverage the omnichannel approach for providing our customers with a robust, 360-degree service and support system.”

Historically, insurance worked on an offline model and it still constitutes a huge share of the overall distribution pie – which is still close to 80 per cent. After the advent of digitisation, online channels have also been a market-defining pillar for the industry in order to serve the customers.

Importantly, the amalgamation of digital and physical models has helped bridge the trust deficit for customers who have online research at their fingertips but prefer an offline purchase.

Further, when asked how the company is using AI/ML, and data analytics, the CTO said: “As consumer behaviour goes through a massive change with better access to research and data available at their fingertips, they can easily compare online, seek assistance and make better choices. The long legacy of data that we have, enables them to do that. Conventionally, the way insurance is bought and sold has broadly been based on static parameters.

“The company is leveraging the potential of automation to entirely turn around the customer experience and also for making the process more cost and time-efficient. Deploying technology helps us efficiently assess the risk profile of a customer which is a breakthrough of sorts for underwriting.

“Furthermore, the CTO said that the cloud technology has helped the insurance company rapidly build its applications over the cloud. For scalability and elasticity, the platform offers all the building blocks for the application with managed services like Amazon RDS, ALB, CloudWatch, ECS with Fargate and WAF/Shield. With AWS we got the native advantage of provisioning resources at will.

“Also, monitoring, managing and decommissioning resources are easier and require fewer clicks. In terms of business outcomes, it had experienced the following key benefits attributed to running on Amazon Web Services: a. Cost reductions: Instead of having to upfront invest heavily in data centres based on peak load, the ability to pay only when you consume computing resources, and pay only for how much one consumes is a big advantage. Since this is an opex model it doesn’t require significant upfront investment.

“b. Quick time to market:
In a cloud computing environment, new IT resources are only a click away, which means that one can reduce the time to make those resources and applications available to its developers from weeks to just minutes. It helps in getting the required resources almost 100 per cent in-time.

“c. Effective use of resources: It operates and manages the infrastructure and development processes at scale. Automation and consistency help in managing and utilising the resources to the fullest. The resource utilisation of the critical resources of ECS+FARGATE(Docker), RDS, Elastic-Cache is 98 per cent-99 per cent. It monitors AWS resources via Amazon CloudWatch’s resource utilisation report.

“d. Faster deployment and Reduced latency: It easily deploys its applications in multiple regions around the world with just a few clicks using code, deploy and Jenkins. With this, it can provide lower latency and a better experience for its customers at a minimal cost.

e. Improved availability: AWS has helped improve the availability of business-critical information, applications, and services. Resource availability is in high 99 per cent and it uses the ASG feature with multiple templates and multiple resource types.

“f. Management efficiency: The infra and application management is far easier via an AWS portal on the browser, as it can be accessed from anywhere.

“g. Improvement in Risk Management:
AWS has helped in risk improvement in case of scaling, availability and recovery during business hours.”

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Business Finance Investment

‘Time To Create A Safety Net’

During volatile times, especially while living abroad i.e. away from your home country, it makes sense to ensure that you safeguard yourself and your loved ones when your circumstances change for the worse. A term life policy with global coverage and add on riders like the accidental cover, critical illness cover and disability insurance is considered a must-have shield … Asian Lite’s Iqbal Azeez meets Neeraj Gupta, CEO,, a leading online insurance aggregator in the UAE.

  1.   How the pandemic changed personal finance of the Indian expat population in the Middle East?

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a catalyst in changing people’s attitudes towards money. The spending and purchasing habits of the Indian expats had changed due to the pandemic outbreak. Expats are now prioritizing needs over wants. They are shopping only for the essential goods and services that too when there are offers and discounts available in the market. Thus, the pandemic was like a wake-up call for them to save and invest money for future contingencies.

  •  What is your advise to the Indian expatriates in the Gulf and other parts of the world?

Indian expatriates are always on the lookout for financial schemes/or investments that help them to provide a safety net and ensure their family’s future financial needs are met. Thus, buying a term insurance policy provides a supporting wall until the expat’s dependents can stand on their feet financially. The sum insured of this is the amount your family/nominee will receive in case of any unfortunate incident such as death, disability, or critical illness. Make sure the sum insured is significant enough for your family to live a stress-free and financially independent life after factoring in inflation. Also, one should choose the maximum available policy period as doing this will ensure a relatively lower premium too.

Neeraj Gupta, CEO,

Secondly, buying an individual health insurance plan can help expats reap the benefits of extensive coverage options and save them from the burden of paying exorbitant medical bills for treatment at private hospitals.

  •  What is your take on the Insurance sector in the UAE?

The life insurance penetration in the UAE is currently at 0.5 per cent, this is likely to grow as Covid-19 has increased the awareness of financial and health risks among consumers. This has resulted in increased demand for life insurance and related products such as individual health covers, critical illness covers etc. Despite the increase in demand, Covid-19 has significantly impacted distribution capabilities on the intermediated side of the industry, which relies on physical contact – an obviously unworkable model during the past several months. As a result, the pandemic has ushered in a renewed focus on the ability to reach consumers directly via digital means.

  •      How the pandemic affected the Sector?

The insurance sector is hard hit by the outbreak of the pandemic. The first and foremost concern that arose immediately out of the COVID-19 outbreak was the continuity of business operations along with employees and partners protection. The insurance market in UAE has approximately lost 48% of its market share (as per KPMG international report) since the outbreak began, car and home insurance being the most affected line of business. While health and life insurance witnessed a slow fall in numbers. As the insurance providers are struggling with shrinking market shares and profit levels there is a very high probability that the payable premiums will be increased in the next year to cover the losses incurred.

  •      How robust is Indian insurance sector?

The insurance industry in India has seen major growth in the last decade along with an introduction of a huge number of advanced products. This has led to tough competition with a positive and healthy outcome. India’s insurance penetration was pegged at 4.2% in FY21, with life insurance penetration at 3.2% and non-life insurance penetration at 1.0%. In terms of insurance density, India’s overall density stood at US$ 78 in FY21 (INDIAN INSURANCE INDUSTRY REPORT , NOVEMBER, 2021).

Also, the insurance sector plays a dynamic role in the wellbeing of India’s economy. It substantially increases the opportunities for savings amongst the individuals, safeguarding their future and helping the insurance sector to form a massive pool of funds.

  •      What are trends and demands for insurance sector?

Throughout 2022 and the years to come, we expect the insurance industry to undergo a digital transformation.  As customer expectations change, insurers will have to adapt their business model to meet new demands. Insurers focusing on delivering customer-centric products and services will succeed. Similarly, data-driven insurance, marketing and sales will be the next elements of insurance to be automated. Data-driven marketing is improving insurance, showing insurers where the gaps in the market lie. By paying attention to which products customers are demanding more, insurers can spend more time innovating new products and, crucially, marketing those products to the right audience. Artificial Intelligence (AI) too will spread wider throughout the industry as more insurers gain confidence with this new technology.

  •    What steps an expat should take to protect his family and himself in this time of uncertainty?

During volatile times, especially while living abroad i.e. away from your home country, it makes sense to ensure that you safeguard yourself and your loved ones when your circumstances change for the worse. A term life policy with global coverage and add on riders like the accidental cover, critical illness cover and disability insurance is considered a must-have shield. Secondly, all expats must build an emergency fund with their salary. One might have a job now, but who knows what might happen in the near future. The emergency fund should be saved in an easy-to-access account, such as a bank account or high-yield savings account to help during unprecedented times.

  •      Your advise to the expat communities in the UAE

It’s advised that using the private system, expats must buy individual health insurance policies in the UAE  to save themselves from the burden of exorbitant healthcare costs. Also, they must reduce their credit card debts. Keeping a frequent check of their credit score would help them to monitor their financial actions. Having a low credit score can lead to imposing higher interest rates, more expensive insurance, and other financial issues like a rejection of a loan or new credit card application. Also, expats must invest their money to generate a passive income via making investments in blue-chip equity stocks, monthly income plans, pension plans, gold bonds and fixed-income investments.

Business Finance Investment

BITFINEX SECURITIES: A New Platform For Tokenized Equities By Hong Kong-based Exchange

Thanks to the new platform, small and medium-sized companies will be granted the opportunity to list their tokenized equities, funds, and bonds in order to increase their capital. In addition to this, traders will be able to trade and invest in these tokenized securities thanks to this platform

Recently, one of the largest crypto exchanges around the world Bitfinex announced that it will be deputing tokenized equities thanks to the new Bitfinex Securities. The exchange now acts as a new trading platform by the company, and it will give traders the ability to become part of traditional finance.

Thanks to the new platform, small and medium-sized companies will be granted the opportunity to list their tokenized equities, funds, and bonds in order to increase their capital. In addition to this, traders will be able to trade and invest in these tokenized securities thanks to this platform.

While there are some similarities between the new trading platform created by Bitfinex and other stock token trading on crypto exchanges, they are still very different from one another. One very important difference between those two is the fact that the tokens listed on FTX and other exchanges are shares of companies that are already public.

On the other hand, Bitfinex Securities representatives say that it will be mostly focusing on listing bonds, equities, or funds of private companies around the world that are thinking of ways to go public with tokenization.

As the representative of the company, Paolo Ardoino said, Bitfinex Securities is aiming to become the most liquid exchange around the world. This Hong Kong-based exchange has long been working on different types of innovative features to offer to their customers, The recent step is another way for the company to make trading more accessible for traders around the world.

Where Was The New Platform Established?

According to the official representatives of the exchange, the new platform is based in Kazakhstan and it is regulated by the Astana International Financial Center, AIFC. The authority will be in charge of regulating and overseeing the new exchange platform.

The representative of the company announced that Bitfinex Securities has been trying to get a license in Astana for over 18 months. As it was noted, the company has only received a conditional investment exchange license for now.

According to the regulations and policies of Bitfinex, any of the traders who are interested in the services of the new platform are required to complete the KYC as well as verification processes to be able to trade.

The Know Your Customer and verification processes might take you some time but it is created for highest safety standards. In addition, it should also be noted that the new platform will not be available in the USA as well as some European countries.

Making Trading More Accessible

Established in 2012, Bitfinex has long been known as a company working very hard towards further adoption of cryptocurrencies and popularization of the crypto trading market. Initially established as a P2P margin lending platform for only.

Bitcoin, the company has transformed its services a lot and welcomed numerous other cryptocurrencies on their platforms. The company offers crypto exchange services to numerous jurisdictions around the world.

The company is known for having a huge user base in the UK, Japan, and many European countries. The services of the company include margin trading, a well-developed trading platform, Over-the-Counter services, derivatives trading, and so on.

Bitfinex makes trading more accessible for everyone around the world. To make investing in cryptocurrencies even easier, the exchange has partnered up with numerous software development companies and now offers crypto traders access to trading automation.

There are numerous crypto trading robots that you can use on Bitfinex, which makes investing in crypto assets even easier. Trading cryptocurrencies can be quite hard for beginner traders, especially because it takes a lot of energy and time for market analysis. When it comes to analyzing the market data, there always is some type of limit to the amount of data humans can analyze.

On the other hand, crypto trading robots are able to analyze huge chunks of data in a matter of minutes, which makes them very helpful for crypto traders. Apart from that, modern crypto trading robots are also able to not only analyze the market but actually trade cryptocurrencies for investors.

For trading automation, Bitfinex offers a robust API key management system that allows traders to use a wide range of third-party trading software. Although the exchange does not offer built-in trading bots, you can use almost any of the available bots in the industry by connecting your trading account to the robot using the API key.

Thanks to the huge dedication towards making crypto trading more accessible, many people view Bitfinex as one of the leading crypto trading exchanges in the market. The company has taken many steps over the past few years to make investing in cryptocurrencies more accessible around the world. There are over 250 pairs available at Bitfinex for trading, which makes it a great platform for crypto trading.

The recent Bitfinex Securities platform established by the exchange further increases the opportunities created for crypto traders. It once again shows how much Bitfinex is focused on further expansion and more diversification.

Dubai Investment World

Blackstone Targets Visa Issue Firm VFS

Blackstone in talks to acquire Dubai-based VFS Global for $1bln..reports Asian Lite News

US-based alternative investment management company Blackstone is in advanced talks to acquire Dubai-headquartered VFS Global, the world’s largest visa outsourcing company, for $1-1.2 billion, India’s Economic Times website reported citing people with knowledge of the matter.


Founded in India, VFS Global is a spinoff of Swiss travel group Kuoni. It is 90 percent owned by Swedish private equity firm EQT and 10 percent by the Kuoni Foundation, Hugentobler Foundation and founder CEO Zubin Karkaria.

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The due diligence process for the acquisition is complete and the legal documentation is expected in the coming weeks, the report said.

VFS began as a visa application services company for the US embassy in India in 2001. Since then, it has expanded to 143 countries across five continents.