How MetLife Asia is Building New Ventures and Finding Startups Focused on Its Challenges

Zia Zaman arrived at MetLife Asia in 2014 after stints in telecommunications (Singtel), consumer electronics (LG), and enterprise technology (Sun Microsystems). He’d also worked for an Internet search startup, FAST, that was acquired by Microsoft.

What struck him was how little the insurance industry interacted with its customers.

The reason the insurance business is “broken,” Zaman contends, is not that it hasn’t innovated. Rather, “the entire industry has…lost its way by not focusing on the customer. It was shocking to me, after working in tech for 22 years, to walk into an organization that just simply didn’t know how to define ‘customer.’ It continues to shock me that this industry, a $4.9 trillion industry, can have 1.4 core interactions with customers a year. That is just not going to survive.”

Zaman, the Chief Innovation Officer for MetLife Asia, is based in Singapore, and he reports to Chris Townsend, the President of MetLife’s Asia business. We spoke with him about the LumenLab innovation center he created; the venture-building activity that LumenLab is working on, in areas like digital health, “InsurTech,” and aging; and a startup engagement platform MetLife Asia launched called collab.

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