35 up different parts of the process, as sometimes happens with higher-cost plans). The fully integrated nature of the MicroEnsure system, its all-inclusive customer relationship management support, and the simplicity of the insurance products offered all allow AXA more efficient and less costly administration. The partnership with MicroEnsure has enabled AXA to extend coverage to 10 million low- income consumers across Africa and Asia. In early 2015, it increased its ownership stake in MicroEnsure to 46 percent, a testament to its interest in playing a strategic role in this business line’s stability and growth. NEW PRODUCTS, NEW DATA, MORE CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT These three examples involve some of the best-known financial brands in the world using fintech partnerships as a way to reach downmarket. But they are far from the whole story. Our report found financial institution/fintech partnerships expanding rapidly to meet the other three main financial inclusion challenges identified. Creating new offerings for existing customers Ì Ì ICICI Bank and Stellar are building a blockchain- enabled payments network. Ì Ì Stanbic Bank and DreamOval are offering a mobile payments platform for small-merchant customers in Ghana. Ì Ì Santander and PayKey are launching a peer-to-peer payments platform via messaging applications with massive user bases including Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Data collection, use, and management Ì Ì MicroBank and Entrepreneurial Finance Lab are extending credit access to entrepreneurs in Spain with limited credit histories. Ì Ì Ujjivan and Artoo are reaching underserved micro, small and medium enterprises in India. Deepening customer engagement and product usage Ì Ì BBVA Bancomer in Mexico and Bancolombia in Colombia are partnering (separately) with Juntos, utilizing its automated SMS platform to increase customer engagement. Ì Ì PNB MetLife and Imaginate are offering a virtual reality smartphone app which, in combination with a VR headset, allows users to “move” through a virtual branch office, getting answers and help with their claims, rather than standing in line in an over-crowded real one. (Eventually customers will be able to speak with virtual agents and submit claims on the platform.) FROM IDEA TO IMPLEMENTATION The growing number and scale of fintech/financial institution partnerships speak to the value proposition both sides see. That said, just because a partnership makes sense doesn’t guarantee it will be easy to execute. Fintechs tend to be risk-takers who live by the Silicon Valley ethos of “test and fail quickly.” Financial institutions tend to move much more slowly and cautiously. As Raj Chowdhury of ICICI Bank put it: “Innovation within a bank is difficult; we have a lot of regulation and require a lot of approvals.” Moving from identifying a potential partnership opportunity to implementing an actual successful partnership depends in part on how well-organized for innovation the financial institution is, starting with whether the person sourcing the partnership has the internal clout to get the rest of the institution on board. Often, to the frustration of prospective partners, this process can be surprisingly lengthy and prone to failure. But thanks in part to the fact that there are now some real success stories, fintechs are willing to be patient because of the scale and exposure that the right partner can bring. As Carlos Lopez-Moctezuma, who leads fintech partnerships for BBVA, Spain’s second-largest bank, puts it, “Size does matter. If you are a big bank and want to work with the fintech ecosystem, it’s easier. Everybody wants to work with you.”