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Nathan Golia
Nathan Golia
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Transamerica Exec Says Options Abound for Securing Mobile Apps

Michael Babikian, EVP and CMO of Transamerica Brokerage, the distribution arm of the life insurance carrier, says that there are ways to ensure producers' personal devices are secure.

Last week, I participated in a webcast with Mitek Systems on the topic of incorporating mobile imaging into insurance processes. (For background, you can read about Mitek's work with Progressive or access the webcast archive.) During the Q&A portion of the event, we received no less than six questions that were all variations of this theme: If a consumer is taking a picture of sensitive data using their own personal device for transmission, how can we be sure that the information is secure at both ends?

Technology consumerization is changing where insurance processes take place: consumers to access insurers from the platform of their choice, and bring-your-own-device policies are being deployed rapidly across financial services. With personal devices offering many opportunities for third-party malfeasance, it's understandable that insurers are wary of what might be lurking on them when they're trying to collect personal data.

Yesterday, I was talking to Michael Babikian, EVP and CMO of Transamerica Brokerage, the distribution arm of the life insurance carrier, for a story that will appear in our next digital issue regarding the popularity of iPad apps for insurance distributors. (Transamerica's LifeSales iPad app was released last month.) I asked him about this issue: How can you be sure that you're getting unadulterated data from a producers' personal iPad, and that the data aren't also being shunted to some other entity?

"There are virus walls that are set up in applications so viruses can't jump from app to app," he replied. "There are security protocols that are quite different on these devices. It's already being done in work environments with BYOD. In corporate settings there are a whole slew of applications that have that firewall built into the app itself."

So it seems that this common issue can be solved by an awareness campaign around these types of technologies — Babikian said there are "several" in the market.

I also asked Babikian about yesterday's LIMRA study indicating that price is a major roadblock in life insurance sales. He said that Transamerica has attempted to mitigate this concern by changing how it disburses death benefits from a lump sum to income-replacement, monthly model.

"It's changed the way [insurers] think about life insurance and gets back to the way a consumer thinks about life insurance," he explains. "When you build in that monthly income stream and look at the premium outlay, it's much lower than what a consumer imagines."

Babikian praised the iPad platform for its ability to display these cost differences on the fly — producers are able to highlight this part of Transamerica's value proposition more easily on the tactile device. But cost isn't the only concern he sees in the market.

"It gets back to overall financial literacy," Babikian adds. "Consumers are feeling the pain of the economy and the safety nets that have gone away. They don't realize the solutions that are out there and that life insurance has a fit in the overall solution of the plan."

Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio

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