Porto Seguro tries to instill a startup culture

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Monday, November 28, 2016

Nurturing an internal startup culture and developing artificial intelligence technologies are some of the priorities for the CIO of Brazilian insurance group Porto Seguro.

In an interview with BNamericas, Italo Flammia said that Porto Seguro leverages projects backed by Oxigênio – its startup accelerator launched in September 2015 – for artificial intelligence development and other digital innovation initiatives.

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Since its creation, the accelerator has launched three calls and developed dozens of projects. The latest call, closed on November 9, is in the process of selecting up to 10 projects.

Each selected startup receives a cash investment of US$50,000. The third phase of the acceleration program kicks off in February, at Porto Seguro's headquarters in São Paulo, and is expected to last six months, followed by an accelerator phase in Silicon Valley.

Porto Seguro is also teaming up with IBM and Google for artificial intelligence, Flammia said. In that sense, Marcelo Porto, president of IBM Brasil, stressed in a press lunch last week that Brazil's financial services market is a trailblazer in the use of the Watson platform.

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Another challenge for the insurer is integrating its different customer channels, from call centers to social media. "It is challenging, because a new technology like chatbots comes up, and we have to deal with it. Let's say we are progressing and are halfway there," Flammia said.

A leader in Brazil's car insurance segment, Porto Seguro is seeking to drive an environment of innovation. In a broader sense, though, the group wants to gradually limit the auto insurance business line to 50% of its earnings.

Porto Seguro's net income was 204.6mn reais (US$64.3mn) in Q3, down 2% year-on-year. The company attributed the result to a non-recurring gain of 28mn reais in 3Q15. Revenues grew 6% to 4.164bn reais.

In Porto Seguro's capex breakdown, 82% of the 109mn reais invested in Q3 went to system development and acquisition of software licenses and hardware.