"We've defined five ecosystems for ourselves – mobility, health, the smart home, asset management and artificial intelligence,” Altin says. "We talk in terms of game plans and have scouting units for each field that look at around 1000 startups all over the world every year.”
A few initiatives are already underway. Allianz X has invested in car broker Abracar, for example. This startup works like an online agency that provides full marketing for a used car – with photos, ads and closing the sale. "We've invested in seven other companies similar to Abracar and have a good many more in the pipeline. And we have enough funding to keep financing our startups' growth.”
Allianz can afford some missteps on its investments. As Altin explains, the Group wants to learn from startups, which may sound peculiar at first. Allianz has 85 million clients and nearly 150,000 employees in 70 countries. It manages EUR 1.5 trillion for its policyholders and investors – four times the German federal budget. Allianz is a global corporate group, yet it's comparing itself to garage businesses?
At Allianz X, this does not seem odd at all. Executives like Altin know that new developments can start in small structures and then have a revolutionary effect. In fact, the revolution in insurance is already in full swing.
For years now, more and more people have been buying insurance over the Internet. Young companies like Clark, Getsafe and Knip promise customized solutions. They offer consumers digital insurance folders with a survey of all their contracts. They sell policies via an app on the smartphone. That's simple and convenient for the customer – and extremely risky for the insurer, because it loses contact with the customer. Someone insured with Knip or Getsafe often may have no idea which insurance company actually holds their policy.
That's of concern to Allianz – it wants to keep new competitors at arms’ length. Advancing digitalization is also heightening the concerns of the 8000 Allianz agents in Germany that customers will soon buy car insurance the way they buy a best-seller from Amazon.
Altin and his digitalization crew are preparing the entire Group for this new age. They're developing new products that make the experience as easy as possible for customers. And they're experimenting with voice-controlled computers like Amazon's Alexa. ”