AHEAD OF THE CURVES

Dubai 2018 | FINANCE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Mohammad Al Hawari, Executive Board Member & Managing Director of Takaful Emarat, on its innovative uses of blockchain, its extensive efforts to digitalize its offerings, and the changing face of the sector.

Mohammad Al Hawari
BIOGRAPHY
Mohammad Al Hawari (referred to as “Mr. T” by his employees after the recent rebranding of Takaful Emarat) currently serves as an Executive Board Member and Managing Director of Takaful Emarat. In his role, Al Hawari works closely with the senior management team on strategically positioning Takaful Emarat as the leader in takaful insurance space. He also serves as a Board Member at Al Ain University of Science and Technology. He brings with him a wealth of experience, having held senior positions at Citibank, Dubai Holding, and Mubadala-GE Capital. He holds a master’s degree in international business administration from Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussees in Paris and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the American University in Dubai.

To what extent is Takaful Emarat embracing new technology such as blockchain?

We have two methods we plan to use. One is to create a digital platform. We would like to become the Uber of insurance, a platform where we do not need anyone working in the areas we have launched. We would like it to be scalable so that we can link up with anyone working around the world. We want to make an easy-to-use product for our insurance. Secondly, we would like to see technology that can help us do a risk-based analysis. If there are two people of the same age with the same Porsches but one is a poor driver, how will we know who to insure? We can either put a chip in the car or an app that can tell if someone is speeding or braking too hard or not using their turn signals. Based on positive driving behavior, premiums can be lower, which translates into fewer claims. This digital platform can in fact help us determine how much to charge and also help drivers think carefully about how they want to drive. With our recent new brand launch of “Tlife" for our life and health business and “Tinsure" for our general insurance business after the completion of the acquisition of Al Hilal Takaful, we now give our customers and partners a fresh perspective. Amusingly, our employees now refer to me as “Mr. T." This is not just a cosmetic update; however, there has been a tremendous amount of work gone into digitalizing our offering, including the launch of new websites for our existing business and the acquisition of Al Hilal Takaful; the introduction of a new enhanced health product that is sold and fulfilled digitally end-to-end; the introduction of Tbo, our new intelligent chat bot available across all our websites; a vibrant online community aimed at improving lifestyles, health, and wellness of our members; and beyond. We are also working on native mobile applications that will further add to our omni-channel customer experience and the overall digital ecosystem.

Takaful Emarat aims to be the first takaful company in the world incorporating blockchain. What does this mean for the company?

The number-one issue in the insurance industry is that customers do not trust their insurers to pay a claim and feel like it will be a hassle to get the claim paid out. Insurance companies also do not trust their customers because they are always wary of fraud. Blockchain will solve that. It creates authenticity and trust. Additionally, there will no longer be paper. We will get into smart contracts that will not be transferable, speak only to the specific client's needs, and do not require signatures. We no longer have to manually check records. Costs will be lower as well. That is why we want to be the first to roll it out.

How will the digital revolution impact the takaful insurance business?

Agents will be obsolete and chat bots and automated call center operations will become the new norm. We make it an attractive product and pull people in without using agents. That is really where the difference is. We need to sell with a combination of IT, big data, analytics, blockchain, and artificial intelligence. We are about to see huge changes in the industry. With the appointment of Fadi Hindi as Takaful Emarat's new CEO this year, we have set the stage for something special that will completely change the way people and businesses look at insurance. We also recently hired a Chief Digital Officer, a complete marketing department, and an IT team. We need data and IT specialists for the future, not financial experts. The final piece is R&D. I always push people to think about innovation. We want to innovate and change the mindset. There is the saying; “Uber yourself before you get Kodaked."