Tech is part of our DNA

Who are the faces behind Friendsurance's tech platform and innovations? Meet our IT team in a new interview series! In the fourth episode, we are talking with Dmitry Kharchenko, our Chief Technology Officer & Chief Data Officer, who is not only leading Friendsurance tech, data and agile departments but also is part of the strategic senior management that drives the company towards the success of our mission, which is to build and run the leading B2B2C platform for digital insurance distribution and management.

Since when are you with Friendsurance?

I was happy to join Friendsurance in August 2020 and drive our great company forward since then. I must say: For me, working at Friendsurance is a real matter of right values and good relationships. Friendsurance has a truly unique and incredible culture and as someone who is new to the company, you are just positively obsessed about the customers since day one! On the first day you receive a special "Friendsurance DNA injection” of passion, pragmatism, innovation and many good relationships, and you just keep it moving forward together with pleasure. I love it indeed!


What is your responsibility at Friendsurance? What is the most interesting part of your job?

I am leading strong tech, data and agile departments with diversified teams across several countries. I am also part of the strategic senior management that drives the company towards the success of our mission, which is to build and run the leading B2B2C platform for digital insurance distribution and management.

In my cross-divisional role, I am responsible for the technological and strategic development of bancassurance platforms and new applications, including online banking integration, governance and business intelligence. My focus is on providing technical vision, strategy and state of the art solutions and to be a connector between the Business and Tech which is extremely important for a true tech company like Friendsurance. 50% of the team works in tech related topics. It is exciting to build challenging and interesting products in a regulated environment like Insurtech. But even more exciting to do it with innovation, excellence and top nich technological trends and architectures in the world. I was working in several countries building pretty advanced tech and data products. I am happy that I can take all my experiences and be able to apply it in the platforms that we are building.

The Friendsurance Team makes personal development a reality. It is very inspiring to see team members growing. It excites me to set clear development paths for our team members, do personal coaching and then celebrate together the career goals achievements.

This is not it however. Another big thing for Friendsurance is Data and Data driven products. Many companies have valuable data. We in Friendsurance succeeded in finding the right way on how to help our customers to benefit from it, while giving them the greatest possible degree of data governance. Simple bank data analyses can save you hours of time on searching and adding your insurance contracts! We do it in seconds. We will detect contracts for you and fill all the relevant data in an easy and smooth customer journey. Important life events are also recognized, such as the birth of a child when new child benefit payments are received. Such events have a major impact on the customer’s life and may make it necessary to adjust the insurance cover. With the help of the new information, insurance companies can develop starting points for customer interactions and make offers tailored to individual needs. I must mention that I like this combination of Business, Tech and Data that allows to drive forward the whole company and be relevant to the industry indeed!


What was the biggest challenge you have solved in your job so far?

Since I joined Friendsurance we have had several outstanding achievements, like launching our tailormade platform with online banking of Deutsche Bank, launching our white label solution, defining and making efficient our Technical Guilds and many more. If I would pick up one probably it would be launching an Architecture Guild. We established a very well defined and working architecture guild, which helps whole tech organizations to use right modern approaches in architecture in all the products that we are building across many partners. The challenging part was to integrate it into the current way of working and establish cross teams and cross department processes that can benefit from it. Now after some months I see the success story: processes, knowledge sharing and engagement of the people is just working. I think it is a great achievement for the whole team and it supports the whole tech strategy of the company.


What do you like the most about working at Friendsurance?

It is usually a very important piece of a puzzle towards company success in building culture, when you work with people that have clear understanding about the values and you share them. Friendsurance is exactly the case when we know the values and follow them, because we love and share them together. In addition, one of the important cultural topics for us is definitely diversity. We have a very international and diverse team, coming from different cultures, countries, and education systems. This helps a lot to have a very objective opinion about even challenging projects and find the best smart solutions. In addition, let’s not forget about having fun! We have team events, company events, coffee breaks, joint celebrations together and even doing hiking trips. I really admire this social aspect and with even >100 people in the company it feels like a close friendship. More than this, it is very inspiring to work among a lot of smart experts and be even more proud because we pioneer the Bancassurance industry together.


How did you find your way to the Insurtech space?

In 20 years of professional experience, originally from Russia, I took leadership positions at cross-cultural tech companies in Israel, Norway and Germany. I was in many roles before, like Chief Technology & Innovation Officer at scaled to a million customers VC-funded credit scoring Fintech bonify and grew Berlin Fintech ecosystem within Tech incubator. I also built cyber security startup Firelayers protecting Google Apps, Box, Dropbox (Proofpoint acquisition). Before, I was founder & CO-CEO of software provider Wizevision International and served in the Israel Defense Forces Intelligence cyber security squad. I was especially focusing on Cyber Security, Data and FinTech industries. I think Insurtech was a natural next move for me as it is a great combination of several industries and still has a lot of opportunities for innovative products.


What do you believe are the most exciting innovations and impactful technologies in the Insurtech space?

In the last bancassurance meetup I was presenting several data trends for Bancassurance, like prediction models, up-sale opportunities, better infrastructures and other. I believe there are several trends, but one is really exceptional and this is automated customer insights. You can offer to the customer real time analyses of current insurance coverage, automatically detect contracts, offer recommendations based on specific customer situations and in real time tailor particular best product for the user. This is a great combination of tech and data innovation that finally adds a lot of value to both the customer and the company. And I must say it saves a lot of time me being a user of such technologies. In addition, it helps to build better, faster risk models that can obviously mitigate a risk for the insurance providers.


What fascinates you about Digital Bancassurance?

The unique combination of the Financial and Insurance industry is an enormous and colossal fact in itself. Both industries have a great set of technologies and data. The moment you combine those, you at least double your opportunities to give to the customer valuable and useful products. Even by the fact that by analyzing banking transactions you can simply improve personalized offering of insurance products gives already a great uplift for the customer experience. In addition, it helps to offer combinations of financial and insurance products as a bundle and improve the up-sale and cross sale opportunities for both financial and insurance providers.


From your perspective what are the greatest strengths of Friendsurance as a tech company?

We are innovative, automated and reliable. We have modular 24/7 highly available platforms and can easily add new functionalities which have a unique behaviour for specific clients. We use advanced stack starting from the latest Kubernetes for infrastructure and ending up with the latest versions of React and Redux for our frontends. We have built in scaling capabilities which can support the needs of any ambitious partners. We have infrastructure as a code and automation is part of our core. We have compliance and governance working and can cover even specific compliance and security needs of individual partners.

Tech is part of our DNA and we have very experienced talents that bring together hundreds of years of experience from many technologies and industries.


How does Friendsurance foster innovation in the insurance world?

Friendsurance develops innovative digital insurance solutions with the aim of making insurance more customer-friendly. We introduced the world's first peer-to-peer insurance model in 2010. Nowadays we innovate by offering scalable and modular digital bancassurance platforms for national and international partners such as Deutsche Bank and Allianz. We are active contributors to bancassurance topics and open insurance approaches across different forums. We have initiated the Free Insurance Data Initiative FRIDA and are driving the association to develop open insurance strategies. We are driving the topic of open insurance not only in Germany but also at the international level: for example, we recently provided input to an open insurance strategy paper of the European insurance supervisory authority EIOPA.


Do you use advanced architectures in the Friendsurance tech team?

Yes we do. We have built our microservices platform using all the advantages of the microservices architecture. We have a good mixture of open source and commercial products running in the cloud. There are a lot of advanced approaches like event driven concepts or services mesh built in our solutions. In data, besides the advanced approaches in Data Lakes, ELT, and modern Data Warehouses we are also actively finding applications of data mesh in the platform.


How do you prepare yourself for an AI-centric world?

I believe in innovative digital solutions and data-driven customer-friendly products that simplify the lives of users. Nowadays it is pretty natural to have part of those products relying on AI. This is what we do in Friendsurance. We fully unleash the potential of banking and insurance data combining it with AI. I am looking forward to building more AI centric products for Bancassurance.


Learn more about the Friendsurance Tech Team! 


Being part of the Friendsurance team means thinking new every day. We are bringing two worlds together: customer centric technical innovation and the insurance business.