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Editor's Message

Source: Asia Insurance Review | Dec 2016

The world has changed. Irreversibly? Or is the tide of globalisation being dammed? 
   As for me, December is the time to remember all the great things in life despite the tough challenges and curved balls that 2016 lunged at every turn all around the globe from north to south and east to west. We have learned to accept the natural disasters even as they come fast and furious. But it is electoral shocks – so far away -- that keep us gasping for breath. Brexit and Trump victory are realities of the day and we must move on. This is a connected globalised world. Doomsayers must hush up and believe in the system (and not just May or Trump) to deliver the right goods. Don’t push people into corners reminding them of electioneering stances. Give them space to take action as leaders in the spirit of greater good with the new dawn! 
   In the spirit of Christmas, this December with all the worries in the world, we bring you a new dawn with our first-ever Cover Story on Alternative Capital (AC) in Asia. Has its time come? Some even urge us to do a full blown conference on AC. We did our bit for Alternative Risk Transfers (ART) in the early days, but stopped after the fourth conference in 2002 as traditional reinsurance was then very cheap in Asia, making ART less appealing. But now that we live in a hybrid reinsurance world, we are checking the space out. 
   In the yuletide mode, we revisit the market reports of the Chief Delegates at the EAIC whose figures we slice and dice to show that insurers are still sitting lame on untapped potential. They moan about excessive competition, but the untrodden path remains unchecked. And this is where technology and disruption innovation might be the actual rainbow that leads the insurer to the real Pot of Gold. It is hard work because it means being “different” from the madding herd instinct. The MAS has fired the first salvo by allowing the full suite of life products to be sold online – a great leap ahead. Dare we dream of even national borders coming down for people to buy insurance online from any provider anywhere? But that’s for another day given that even in digital, protectionist national barriers are sprouting fast. I cannot even subscribe to Hulu online without a legitimate US-based credit card.
   Christmas is not the same without remembering the scrooge. So we do bring you sob stories that highlight bad paymasters in the claims world and the sad truth that, even though being customer-centric is a buzzword, the right people in the organisations do not understand what that means, Gen Y’s demands notwithstanding.
   But hey, Christmas is the season to be jolly. So we load you up with great joyful stories of success with leaders sharing their bounty that comes with riding on innovation, technology and just doing good! And there is so much good to be done. So let’s keep at it by just being efficient and results-oriented in everything we do.
   I end this editorial while still at the 12th Microinsurance Conference in Colombo where in the spirit of doing good, there are many in the insurance industry out there checking out the real possibility of providing protection to the under-served segment – the poor. It was most encouraging to see some 400 people at this meeting so passionate about boosting microinsurance as a service to the poor and ensuring its sustainability in helping the poor face the challenges of living beyond just today. 
   This gives the same cosy feeling of chestnuts roasting on open fire to warm the hearts and souls. There are already 100 million covered under microinsurance. And the aim is to protect 300 million by 2020. And with microinsurance riding on mobile apps and technology beyond just relying on MFIs, microinsurance will move from being a niche to a mass market product soon! And it is not a charity, but a real business proposition. So check it out.
   Merry Christmas to all. Keep giving and the world will reward you. This is the simple truth of the cycle of life.
Sivam Subramaniam
Asia Insurance Review
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