Enterprise AI developer VAIOT has integrated IBM’s Watson Assistant into its new platform for finding and selling car insurance. The virtual assistant applies natural language processing to talking to potential customers and filling out the contract, which relies on blockchain technology.
Watson Talks Blockchain
Watson converses with potential customers by voice or text on a mobile app under the auspices of VAIOT, asking about what kind of insurance they are looking for, what they are willing to pay, and other key questions. Once all of the relevant information is collected, Watson suggests options for insurance, and the customer picks one, signing the contract. The trick with VAIOT is that it uses blockchain-based smart contracts, meaning that the AI monitors the deal and automatically begins the insurance coverage once the payment goes through. The benefit of using blockchain tech, and the smart contract aspect, in particular, is that the whole process can run without any need for someone at an insurance company to keep up with it. By definition, Blockchain can’t be changed once it is set, so the smart contract acts as its own administrator, although it keeps the insurance company and customer informed. IBM plays a role as the facilitator through Watson as well as the company’s cloud services, augmenting VAIOT’s platform.
“Advancements in AI, automation and hybrid cloud are helping enterprises around the world achieve new levels of efficiency and customer satisfaction,” IBM Global Technology Services Leader Paweł Raczyński said in a statement. “IBM is working with VAIOT to bring together IBM Services’ industry expertise with IBM Watson’s cutting-edge natural language processing capabilities to deliver new solutions that provide a seamless customer experience.”
VAIOT recently raised about $5.9 million in a funding round and plans to extend its virtual assistants to more kinds of insurance and other industries where its blockchain-based approach would be useful. The insurance industry has been experimenting with voice assistants in some form for a while. Liberty Mutual’s Safeco brand was the first insurance company to get an Alexa skill, offering connections to local insurance agents. Others followed, including Allstate, which included both local agent listings and the ability to determine when and how much the user’s next bill would be. Progressive, meanwhile, was the first to expand to Google Assistant with a voice app offering tups on buying insurance. Nationwide Insurance even gave away a million Amazon Echo Auto devices last year to new and existing customers as part of a promotion for its updated Alexa Skill, including calling roadside assistance and a vehicle safety checklist. None included the straight purchase of insurance. Notably, VAIOT is relying on a major voice AI, but not one of the standard smart speaker platforms. Insurance is intrinsically cautious about new technology and methods of selling services, but as voice commerce rises, in general, it’s easy to imagine purchasing insurance by voice like any other commodity.
“Utilizing AI’s full potential is essential for VAIOT’s solutions, and IBM is providing us with that, VAIOT CEO Christoph Surgowt said in a statement. “The opportunities that come with AI on cloud and blockchain technologies allow companies from the insurance and InsurTech sectors to digitize and improve their current processes, and we are confident our solutions will jumpstart this transformation.”