Atlas Magazine April 2021

Insurers, up against web giants

After years of weaving their web, the GAFAMs1 are knocking on the door of insurers. This opening to the outside world by the web giants is a logical step in view of their command over the essentials of the insurance business, namely data, networks and capital.
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Faced with this enormous technological, commercial and financial power, insurers suddenly find themselves helpless, in the face of these tentacular groups that have become the masters of the world economy.

While traditional insurers collect information from their customers at the national level, the GAFAMs have no territorial or sectoral limits, gathering data on everything and everywhere, very often material obtained in exchange for services offered for free.

This ability to capture and exploit information has allowed them to build up extremely rich and varied mega-databases.

The second strength of the GAFAMs lies in their ability to sell, based on unparalleled distribution networks and communication. This quasi-monopoly situation in their respective fields makes them formidable competitors, masters of cross-selling.

Google alone accounts for 90% of the requests on the Internet. YouTube, a subsidiary of Google, is viewed more than any television channel, while Facebook has nearly three billion monthly users.

From a financial point of view, GAFAMs weigh more than Japan or Germany. The market capitalizations at the end of 2020 of Apple (2254 billion USD) and Amazon (1634 billion USD) are higher than the 2020 GDP of Italy, ranked 7thglobal economy.

On another scale of magnitude, the largest market capitalization of an insurer at the end of 2020 (Berkshire Hathaway2) amounts to 544 billion USD, a fairly smaller amount than Facebook’s, the last of the GAFAMs, which reaches 776 billion USD.

1 Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft
2 Insurance represents only a part of the conglomerate's activities

Atlas Magazine N°180, April 2021

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