The future of insurance sales will be driven by conversational technologies, as more locals warm up to using artificial intelligence (AI)-based chatbots to make purchases online.
This is according to Cape Town-based insurtech company rather.chat.
It says it has conducted the sale of over 100 000 insurance policies via its proprietary chatbot since inception, with 85% of these sales concluded without any human intervention.
Formerly known as CompariSure, the fintech firm − founded in November 2017 by Jonathan Elcock and Matt Kloos − compares financial services products and helps customers choose the cover that suits them best via its aggregator platform.
Over the years, the company has evolved to assist businesses to develop and integrate custom chatbots into their operations and social media platforms, such as WhatsApp Facebook Messenger and Moya Messenger.
The conversational bots are integrated with AI, machine learning, natural language processing, live chat and analytics, to help businesses improve customer experience, it says.
Last year, rather.chat received a R15 million funding boost from venture capital firms HAVAÍC and 4Di, in a pre-series A funding round.
CEO Elcock tells ITWeb the funding is being used to leverage the latest advancements in AI technology to develop chatbots that enable users to complete the entire quoting and purchase process in-chat.
“Chat as a medium of engagement is preferred by the majority of consumers, young and old. Having chatted to over 15 million South Africans to date via chatbots, rather.chat now aims to bridge the financial and digital exclusion divide in South Africa through integrating advancements in conversational AI offerings.
“The team is focused on taking the various features and capabilities we have built over the years and turning them into a usable chat platform. One exciting new feature we recently launched is ChatGPT integration, allowing companies to automate customer engagement and FAQs via the ChatGPT engine,” comments Elcock.
Its chatbot technology is being used by some of SA’s largest financial services and retail sector firms, including Discovery, Old Mutual iWYZE, Ackermans, PEP, Cars.co.za, SA Home Loans, Intelligent Debt Management and Yazi Market Research.
According to a Market Research Future report, the conversational AI market was valued at $7.8 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow from $9.5 billion in 2023, to $32.4 billion by 2030, showing a compound annual growth rate of 22.60%.
The market is being driven by increasing demand for AI-based customer support, it says.
To support the development of its solutions, the company has expanded its tech team, notes Elcock. “We have since inception grown to a team of 15 people, which includes platform developers, engineers and a data scientist, and we’re still growing.
“We have also added a head of engineering, who is responsible for overseeing all software developers, managing team dynamics, allocating resources to projects, recruiting, R&D efforts, etc. We expect to have three more people joining in the next few months.”