James Emejo in Abuja
The acting Commissioner for Insurance, Mr. Sunday Thomas, has challenged insurance operators to seize advantage of the emerging digital technologies to deepen financial inclusion and insurance penetration in the country.
Speaking at the opening of the 2019 Insurance Professionals’ Forum, themed, “The Digital Era: Implications for Insurance Professionals”, which was organised by the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN) in Abeokuta, Ogun State, he said the prospects in embracing technological advancements in the industry are limitless, warning that failure to invest in technology could be costly going forward.
He said the 21st century digital technology has integrated the world and its systems into one global village, where all transactions are now on the fingertips.
He said: “Let me warn that our failure to key into the 21st century demand for digital business services might spell doom for our industry. Our failure to master social, mobile, analytics and cloud technologies, means we will be unable to serve even the most basic demands of customers and the post-digital world.
“Hence, we will be prevented from embracing the next digital trends or disruption. It is important we work towards being part of the wave because this new set of technologies will ensure we rethink the entire industry and the parts needed to be played in the world.”
He added: “Insurance professionals need to be more alert and imbibe various relevant technologies as a baseline or core competency while adopting newer technologies- the internet of things (IoT), telematics, “big data”, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), “chat-bots”, distributed ledger technology (DLT) and so on.”
According to him: “Insurance business must understand that digitalisation has now taken precedence in people’s day to day affairs and the consequence could be massive if we fail to fix any gap that this can create in our service delivery.
“We must effectively integrate into the robust financial circle for insurance to take its rightful place in the economy. We must invest in technology in order to meet up with current phase of advancement and take our products to the comfort of consumers.
“The demand by consumers for ease of transacting business is becoming clearer and aggressive. How we respond to these demands will certainly determine our position in the financial market and long-time sustainability of our businesses.”
Thomas said the commission on its part remained committed to improving the use of technology in the sector, adding that it is currently investing hugely in automating most of its operations.
He said NAICOM’s portal that would integrate all insurance transactions into a single hub is currently being finalised and may be operational next year.
Thomas added: “Suffice it to say that NAICOM has at all times encouraged practitioners to imbibe the adoption of technology in their businesses.
“If the industry is to effectively key into the financial inclusion target of the federal government, it therefore behoves us to reinvigorate and face the challenges of digitalising our operations not only to build trust, confidence and reassurance of all stakeholders that the industry is ready to encore its peers, but to enhance penetration.”