E-commerce companies often struggle to find the right insurance. Two London-based founders are on a mission to change that: With their startup Anansi, Megan Bingham-Walker and Ana Martins de Carvalho offer online merchants an easy way to cover their shipments against losses and delays with just one click. Their story also demonstrates the innovative power of “Women in Tech” networks.
In the insurance industry, information is considered the most important currency, and not only since the insurtech boom. The name of the startup Anansi – a participant in InsurTech Hub Munich’s Innovation Programme – is particularly appropriate in this context: the West African mythical figure Anansi, who appears in the shape of a spider, is regarded as the “collector of all the wisdom in the world”.
A wisdom that is still missing, especially in e-commerce, as founder Megan Bingham-Walker notes: “Many online retailers are completely uncertain about their insurance coverage. Small web shops in particular find it difficult to find insurance policies that really meet their needs. Especially now – in times of the corona crisis – it is to be expected that online shopping will grow strongly and at the same time there will be more and more delivery problems. This is exactly where we come in: With our solution, we can closely monitor the development of each retailer’s risk exposure and then offer them exactly the insurance coverage they need”.
In order to be able to determine the trader’s risk as accurately as possible, Anansi utilizes the capabilities of Machine Learning and Data Sciences. The company pledges to offer “Zero Admin Insurance”, from which both insurance providers and shop operators benefit.
The need for an offer like this is apparent once you take a look at the statistics: Online merchants are exposed to numerous risks in their daily business. In a survey conducted by the credit agency Crifbürgel in 2019 among 130 online merchants, 97 percent of German companies stated that they had been the victim of fraud at some point in their lives. In this context, 84 percent of the retailers were affected by the so-called “fraudulent inducement to contract”, a scam in which the buyer orders goods without the intention of ever paying for them. Methods like these alone cause online trading losses of several billion euros a year. Small shop operators in particular find it difficult to insure these adequately.
Anansi would like to precisely address these merchants. In the long term, the company wants to offer a platform on which e-commerce companies can easily and without a lot of administrative effort take out parametric insurance policies that perfectly fit their risk scenario. What’s special about parametric insurance policies is that the loss suffered is not reimbursed, but the payout is based on the occurrence of a specific event. This makes this form of insurance simpler, more predictable and above all: more transparent.
The first product to be rolled out immediately is a Shopify app that provides automatic protection against shipping losses and delays. With a one-click integration into a retailer’s shop, Anansi’s insurance partners can track the progress of shipments closely and automatically compensate for losses if something goes wrong. In the future, Anansi aims to add additional insurance products to their platform to protect merchants against risks such as payment fraud, delivery problems and product liability issues.
Two founders with Tech-DNA
Megan Bingham-Walker and her co-founder Ana Martins de Carvalho are true insurtech pioneers who came together through a shared passion for technology. Their story shows the innovative power that female founders’ networks in the tech industry can unfold. The two founders met three years ago at a meetup for women in tech in London. Megan, who at that time was already looking back on a long career with a renowned European investment company, was seeking a new challenge and was just teaching herself programming. In her future partner Ana, who at that time was working as a computer scientist in the Risk Systems Department at BNP Paribas, she found a tutor who supported her in expanding her software knowledge.
Currently, the development team is faced with the challenge of properly clearing the legal framework for the first product launch. In the next step, it will be a major task to ensure data quality and to push ahead with the distribution of the software. Initially, Anansi is aimed exclusively at Shopify users, but later on the product is to be marketed on other platforms.
With their participation in InsurTech Hub Munich’s Accelerator Program, the two founders hope to further professionalize their business and receive valuable tips from the industry: “We are very grateful to be part of the ITHM Innovation Program. Specifically, it will show us ways to minimize risks for our company – even though the insurance industry is probably still the least vulnerable to a possible recession and people will always shop online”.
Text: Daniel Lange