fizzy. Innovation at AXA

Laurent Benichou
5 min readSep 12, 2017

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Fizzy is “on air”.

Launched. We at AXA just released fizzy, a new solution of retail insurance that automatically compensates customers for flight delays over 2 hours.

It’s been a tough year for the core team: Fabian, Kevin, Clément, Harmonie and myself. It has been tough as well for those who helped us in the project team: Wilson, Lisa and Anne-Sophie for the UX; Vincent for project management and good vibes; Kevin D., Maxime and Sebastien for pricing & reinsurance; Samer for financials; Magic Francois for Legal; Alexandre and Frank for strategy and organization. I remember one year ago: I was in the office of my manager Hassan El Shabrawishi, Group Chief Innovation Officer and head of AXA Next, a team responsible for identifying and launching new business models. I pitched the project to him. Hassan triggered this endeavor right away with a big and energetic “Laurent, let’s do it”. When he gave the green light for the project, I sincerely did not imagine the amount of work that was needed, the number of user stories Harmonie would write to deliver the MVP.

And also the amount of support we would get inside AXA, from Tanguy’s team in Paris (for Pricing and Parametric expertise) to AXA Travel Insurance (the fronting company), AXA Corporate Solutions (Reinsurance), AXA Group Solutions, Legal and Communications. Not to mention the Senior Management of the company that supported fizzy along the way. Overall, we benefited from a company where cooperation is a reality and where daring is still allowed, and even promoted. A symptom of this cooperation culture was provided to me by Christian and the Risk team, which I (feverishly) met, fearing they would refuse to assess the new kind of risk I was trying to bring to their attention (flight delay): in the end, not only did they accept to work with us but they also asked us our feedback on how fast they answered us, in order to be able to improve themselves in the future.

We did it. It was a lot of work, it was tough, it was a lot of parties involved but we did it! Or, might I say: we did v0.1. And the journey is still long before we can turn back and admire our work! But step #1 is done. And this is a great milestone.

fizzy reinvents the insurance experience

fizzy is a big piece of innovation for AXA and the insurance industry. For three main reasons:

1. Automation. It is an insurance solution that is fully automated from purchase to compensation. The customer can buy it and forget about the policy. Compensation is triggered automatically and pushed to the customer’s bank account.

2. Transparency. It is an insurance policy with no exclusion and a pre-set compensation amount. The time of lengthy contracts with small letters is coming to an end.

3. Trust. The insurance contract and IT architecture provide additional trust between AXA and its customers: each fizzy transaction is written in a public blockchain, which takes control of indemnification decision.

fizzy is automated retail parametric insurance

In traditional insurance, a financial risk is mutualized between multiple parties, so that any party gets support if the risk materializes. The insurer acts as an aggregator of insurance capital, verifier of damage reality and indemnity provider. The reality of risk materialization is processed through a first notification of loss (or FNOL) sent by the customer to the insurance company. The company then checks that the damage is effective and takes appropriate actions for customers: either send a sum of money or provide services (car fixing by referenced car mechanics, house fixing etc). In parametric insurance, the FNOL is not triggered by the customer but by data. And with the right computer coding, data automatically triggers a FNOL. At fizzy, the FNOL is triggered by an Ethereum smart contract (a condition of payment coded in the blockchain) that is connected to a plane arrival time aggregator (also called oracle). Actual payment is also automated, at the compensation amount checked by the customer at purchase. All in all, what Fabian and Kevin have done is an insurance solution that requires NO ACTION from the customer once purchased: you are eligible, money is proactively pushed in your bank account! It seems simple but it has involved 390 “user stories” (as they say in the “scrum” project methodology). All drafted (and checked) by Harmonie!

fizzy is transparent insurance

fizzy aims to provide as much clarity as possible for customers. That is why the amount of indemnification is set during the purchasing process and shared BEFORE customers actually buy. Customers are perfectly informed and AXA does not change the amount of indemnity in case of actual customer indemnification. What is more, fizzy is set to always apply, whatever the cause of the delay. There is no exclusion in case of company strike or natural disaster, which will give more comfort to customers: whatever is promised will be delivered!

With fizzy, AXA launches a full production service using the Ethereum Blockchain

AXA is the first large insurer to issue in production a service using the Ethereum public Blockchain. The AXA smart contract on Ethereum will calculate the plane delay, then decide which policies are compensated and which are not. The smart contract itself (not AXA people) will initiate an indemnification request to the customer.

AXA uses a public blockchain (Ethereum) through which power users can check smart contract transactions. We made an insurance solution with no exclusion at all, allowing us to hold the promise of smart contracting. Thanks to the magic of Kevin B. and Fabian, we built our solution from the ground up including IT chunks that did not exist (Ethereum smart contract, oracle etc.) and new ones will arrive incl. obviously cryptocoin purchase and payment when market and regulation are ready.

Help us improve and develop fizzy

As this is our first release, your feedback means the world to us. Try fizzy at https://fizzy.axa and leave your comments, suggestions or disappointments in the comments section here or the fizzy contact section.

Besides, there are different possible futures for fizzy and we want you to help us choose the right one. After the first insurance tunnels between Paris airport CDG and US airports, what new routes do you want to see? You are an airline or a travel agency and are interested in partnering with us? You think fizzy could be applied to other products? Drop us a line.

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Laurent Benichou

Bitcoin, SHA-256, humor, freedom, entrepreneurship, standup comedy & innovation.