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The week in fintech: Silicon Valley brings mobile analytics to auto insurance


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The week in fintech: Silicon Valley brings mobile analytics to auto insurance

This weekly recap features updates on bank technology, payments, online lending and other news in the financial technology space. Send tips, ideas and chatter to For other recent fintech news, click here.

A relative newcomer to the car insurance telematics space is riding the wave of auto insurers' interest in smartphone-based applications.

Most of the top 10 U.S. personal auto writers have adopted smartphone-based systems for their telematics programs, according to research conducted by S&P Global Market Intelligence. Some insurers have even phased out OBD-II devices, also known as "dongles," altogether.

Founded in 2013, Zendrive develops telematic technology that detects crashes and provides driver scoring and coaching. The company does not offer a consumer mobile application, but instead embeds its technology in auto insurers' mobile applications to help them manage risk.

After honing his mobile expertise at Google Inc. and Facebook Inc., Zendrive CEO Jonathan Matus set out to start a company that uses technology to make driving safer.

In an interview, Matus pointed out that Progressive Corp., a leader in this space, said in 2016 that it collected and analyzed more than 15 billion miles of driving data over the course of 18 years with its Snapshot program. Matus said Zendrive reached the same 15 billion mile mark in seven months.

Recently, Progressive executives touted their foray into smartphone-based telematics. During the company's first-quarter earnings call, CEO Susan Griffith highlighted the new Snapshot mobile offering, which Progressive has rolled out in more than 20 states. The mobile version is less expensive than a plug-in device and moves with the shifting technological tides, she said.

Matus said Zendrive's platform is growing faster than others in the space and has Silicon Valley-caliber machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities. The startup's data analysis is also richer than that of others in the insurance space, he added.

Commercial automobile insurance is the startup's primary area of focus. Matus said trending underwriting losses have increased demand in the commercial auto space. With Zendrive's technology, fleet managers can analyze drivers and provide individualized coaching.

In its first four years, Zendrive has been focused on making sure that its platform and technology work well. In 2017, the company is looking to work with insurers to deploy its product. Further down the road, the company sees itself adapting as vehicles themselves become connected with smart technology. For now, the company realizes that nearly every car has a smartphone in it, Matus said.

In payments news this week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau urged retail credit card companies to offer more transparency around deferred-interest promotions.

VeriFone Systems Inc.'s stock price was down 3.38% to $17.70 in late afternoon trading June 9. On June 8, the company gave guidance for the third fiscal quarter and lowered its outlook for the fiscal year. VeriFone also targeted three businesses for financial restructuring and divestitures, including its China business and a segment that provides taxi solutions.

From June 1 to June 8, the SNL U.S. Financial Technology Index rose 0.49%.

S&P Global Market Intelligence released a fintech primer on four areas — digital lending, payments, blockchain and digital wealth management — of particular interest due to their rapid pace of growth, technological disruption, and regulatory and other risks. Click here to read the primer.