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Lemonade, insurance, and banking mashups

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Lemonade, insurance, and banking mashups

Insurance.

Lemonade, the hiring-like-crazy, raising-money-like-crazy, getting-PR-like-crazy insurance startup just added another big name to its roster. In addition to the minions of execs the company recruited out of AIG, the p2p insurer just hired behavioral economist, Dan Ariely. The Duke professor is probably best know for his wacky, creative experiments that populated the pages of the books he’s written about our irrational financial behavior.

Ariely’s role at Lemonade is technically titled “Chief Behavioral Officer”. So, ostensibly, his role will be to help develop the user aspects of the insurance platform to ensure it provides enough billion dollar triggers to get users addicted to the platform and turning to it for repeated dopamine hits.

“If you tried to create a system to bring out the worst in humans, it would look a lot like the insurance of today,” Ariely said in a statement. “We’ve spent recent years deepening our understanding of honesty and trust, and our conclusion is that insurance is crying out for a makeover.”

While the hype machine is working overtime, we don’t have a lot of details yet what p2p insurance (or at least, Lemonade’s flavor of it) really looks like. We aren’t without clues, though. We do know that there is some type of reinsurance scheme (Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has its hands in it) and the firm has said that it won’t make money by denying claims. So, if in fact, the firm is collapsing the 3-tier insurance stack, it will have to allay fears that the company won’t be around to payout when a claim is made. The big funding round, the name-brand reinsurers, the executive migration — all may be necessary parts of the Lemonade gameplan.

Banks.

A couple of years ago, Simple (then called Bank Simple) was billed to be the future of banking. Simple was a really nice user interface that sat on top of the banking stack but never quite impacted the industry the way some had hoped.

Number26, a Peter Thiel-backed next generation German bank, is another attempt at creating the bank of the future. Instead of building a vertically-integrated bank, some banks like Number26 are taking the mashup approach: integrating with various services and product providers to provide more comprehensive service. Number26 is integrating Transferwise, a p2p currency exchange, so that clients of the bank can exchange currencies easily within their accounts.

Marc Andreessen, founder of Netscape and considered by some as smart VC money, once boasted that he’d fund anyone who wanted to start a full digital bank. That spurred a pretty vigorous conversation about whether a truly disruptive bank needed to be built completely from the ground up or a virtual bank could be produced by doing away with branches and just creating digital hooks into banking infrastructure.

Because of the costs and complexities in building a full banking technology stack from the ground up, many banking startups, like Number26, are taking the approach of integrating their money apps into other non-financial apps (like Qapital recently did by integrating on IFTTT). This can essentially take a banking app with limited functionality as a standalone and back it into being a much more robust offering.

Number26’s co-founder and CEO Valentin Stalf says its ambition is to create a single app that integrates the services of multiple fintech startups, providing an aggregated showcase for the best emerging alternatives to traditional banking services on a single screen.

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