Insurers selling cars – why not?!

Tesla, the California-based electric car manufacturer, has recently begun selling its own automobile insurance, allowing drivers in the Golden State to purchase a vehicle and insurance together as a package.

Insurance companies can choose to view this move, like most innovative ideas, either as a threat — “They’re removing potential customers from the market” – or an opportunity – “What can we learn from this bold move?”

Here at Cookhouse Labs (CHL), we see it as a wonderful opportunity for insurers to join the game by selling cars, along with insurance. Why not?

Insurance companies, as part of the financial services industry, have the capital to explore this option. Typically, insurers invest the money paid by their clients as premiums so it reaps the largest financial reward possible. However, with markets plummeting as fears of COVID-19 spread worldwide and interest rates at historic lows, it’s time to think innovatively. Why shouldn’t an insurance company create its own business as a way of maximizing its profit?

Think about it. An insurance company could purchase vehicles from the manufacturer and sell them complete with insurance coverage as a package. For the consumer, it simplifies the purchase – there’s — no need to hunt around for auto insurers and compare their rates. Coverage is simply part of the deal.

As the insurer, you can add other perks, too, such as offering a telematics tariff by monitoring driving behaviour in exchange for lower rates. For young drivers, who generally pay high premiums, you could create an enticing special package to reduce costs.

Perks selling cars

Not only is this an innovative approach to auto insurance, it is one that puts the customer first. Most drivers will be happy to forego the inconvenience of shopping around for insurance before they put their vehicle on the road. If you lock in the insurance with the product, you’ll attract new customers and make it easy to retain them – and likely for much longer than a typical one-year policy. After all, recruiting customers is the hard part; with proper attention and service, retention shouldn’t be difficult.

This is an idea new to the insurance industry, but not a radical one. The cellular communications industry jumped on this idea years ago, once they realized that consumers found it much easier to buy their mobile devices at the same place where they obtained their data/calling plans. It’s almost a given today.

At Cookhouse Labs, we view this approach as an opportunity for insurers to retain their place in the value chain while becoming more attractive to customers.

During our Season of Innovation at CHL, we’re delighted to share with you our thoughts about innovation in the insurance industry. Solutions like these are the product of collaboration among our members, and you, too, can share in the intellectual riches. Get in touch with us at to learn more

Insurers Aren’t Prepared for the Future of Transportation – Learnings & Wrap Up

“Insurers are not prepared to seamlessly integrate with the future of transportation.”

This was one astounding conclusion that our project team came to at the end of our 4-week sprint. Through 16 days, 11 participants, 5 companies, and 4 partnerships, we inferred that the auto insurance industry needs to move quickly to adapt to the shifting change in risk.

And although the project team had originally determined 2050 as a placeholder date for the mass adoption of fully autonomous vehicles, through the course of the sprint, two problems became apparent:

  • The anticipated date of 2050 is in fact, too far out
  • Insurers are not ready for this disruption

Our Proposed Solution

To tackle both of these problems, the team created a portfolio solution with the following three elements:

  • Discovery and Awareness Portal
  • Adaptive Risk Model
  • Transportation Short Leasing/UBI Application

The ultimate goal of these three elements is to provide a comprehensive solution for auto insurers while providing a user-friendly experience for the average driver. 

1. Discovery & Awareness Portal

This portal will address the safety concerns of the customer by providing a manufacturer agnostic resource where customers can learn and experience what it’s like to be in an autonomous vehicle. 

2. Adaptive Risk Model

This risk model will take into account the transition period (or the “messy middle” environment) where customers will be driving vehicles that have some autonomous features, but are not yet fully autonomous. 

3. Transportation Short Leasing/UBI Application

 This application is aimed towards consumers who do not own a vehicle, but still require transportation. This is intended to be more financially appealing than taxis and this type of broker for autonomous transportation is projected to become more relevant over time. 

Next steps for the Autonomous Vehicle Project Team

In addition to the above deliverables, the team produced a business case that outlined how the sustainable business model, which was presented at the team’s final presentation. The final valuation of all of these products was a whopping $150 MM.

Immediately following the presentation was a next steps session where the audience and project team discussed how to bring the proposed MVPs to market. The following priorities were identified to be further defined in 2018:

  • Getting buy-in from regulators for these new insurance models
  • Creating partnerships with manufacturers
  • Communicating the value of autonomous vehicles to consumers
  • Creating insurance for pay-per-ride insurance
  • Creating and refining the steps to aggregate information 
  • Designing an operational plan (how to make the $$)
  • Bringing e-call (automated emergency calling) to Canada
  • Collaborating with private and public sectors to improve safety in the transition period
  • Creating data privacy guidelines
  • Standardizing AV guidelines
  • Creating a risk model 

Want to get in on the action?

Although our initial project sprint has ended for the Autonomous Vehicle team, it’s not too late to become involved with the next steps of this project! Make sure you’re a part of our next phase by becoming a member of Cookhouse Lab in 2018! Our introductory membership prices are ending in Q1 of 2018, so the time is now.  

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Blockchain & Group Benefit Coordination: Learnings & Wrap Up

Blockchain has been one of the most talked-about technologies of 2017, with some even calling it the most revolutionary technology since the widespread use of the Internet.

How will blockchain technology affect the insurance group benefits coordination process?

Over the course of a 5-week sprint, Cookhouse Lab’s blockchain & group benefit coordination project team went on a mission to find out. Using the lab’s design-thinking methodology, the team identified key customer and business pain points within the current coordination of benefits journey, developed a future state blockchain-based process, and created a set of wireframes for the MVP. Finally, they were able to leverage resources from the project’s build partner, msg global, to build a final MVP based on their wireframes and processes. 

The proposed blockchain & group benefit coordination MVP

The team’s MVP enables policyholders, covered by multiple insurance companies, to submit an extended healthcare claim (eg, vision, physio, massage) once to their primary provider. The claim will be adjudicated by the primary provider, then passed on via a blockchain to the secondary provider, who will adjudicate the claim for the remainder of the balance. 

Technology used to build the MVP

This MVP was built with Hyperledger Fabric and hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS). The former is a blockchain framework implementation that was originally contributed by Digital Asset and IBM. This framework allows for various components, including consensus and membership services to be plug-and-play. The latter is a secure cloud computing service which provides the necessary database storage.

How will this blockchain MVP benefit group benefit coordination?

Although the benefits of this solution are primarily customer-focused, insurers will also undoubtedly gain from this technology. Here are two of the major ways in which this MVP will improve the group benefit process:

  • Time efficiency: Policyholders would no longer need to submit claims multiple times when covered by multiple providers, which will enable policyholders to more easily receive the compensation they are entitled to.
  • Cost efficiency: Secondary insurers would benefit too. By receiving claims directly from the primary insurer, they can place more trust in the claim information, and avoid the resource cost of reaching back to the customer for further details.

What are the limitations of blockchain?

While building an MVP for blockchain in a 5-week sprint is a huge accomplishment, it is still important to be aware of its limitations. This technology is still in its infancy, which means that development protocols are still being established and roadblocks are found often. 

What’s next for blockchain technology?

While blockchain does have limitations, we can be optimistic in assuming the above issues will be rectified in due time. As the technology increases in sophistication, and as new consensus protocols are developed and implemented, blockchain will continue to become a more viable and efficient solution.

Ultimately, what it comes down to is that this technology offers a fantastic solution for transactions that take place across multiple parties. For this reason, and those detailed in the diagram below, blockchain lends itself well to solving the Coordination of Group Benefits use case.

Next steps for the Blockchain & Group Benefits Coordination MVP

Whenever a project comes to completion in Cookhouse Lab, organizations involved in the project assess the MVP internally before deciding on next steps. For this project, organizations will meet again in early 2018 to determine next steps. 

Want to get involved with blockchain?

We want to thank our participating members The Co-operators, Great West Life, Manulife and Sunlife on bringing their innovative minds together for this project! If your organization is interested in joining this group of innovators for the next steps for this project, please contact us.

But wait! This innovative fun doesn’t stop there. Cookhouse Lab is gearing up for 2018, and we’ve already planned some exciting sprints. Check them out!

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The Future of Transportation, Autonomous Vehicles: Project Update

Most manufacturers have announced plans to bring semi-autonomous vehicles to the market by 2020, but would you take your hands off your steering wheel while driving 100 km/h? 

How would insurers determine risk if drivers continue to have less influence on the control of vehicles? 

How would you behave if you were driving next to an autonomous vehicle? How will the relationship between auto insurers and manufacturers change when this technology is widely implemented? 

Here is a glimpse of the project team’s progress so far. 

Our problem statement

Throughout this project, our main goal has been to explore how drivers will react to the boom of autonomous vehicles. The team’s mid-project problem statement has been iterated to:

“Drivers today are uncertain about the adoption or transition to autonomous vehicles”.

Focused on the barrier mentioned above, our conclusion is that the quicker drivers adopt autonomous vehicles today, the faster society can get past the “messy middle” transition period where vehicle collisions are projected to increase before dropping significantly when fully autonomous are widely adopted.

Hypothesis on the overall risk for auto insurers

90% of collisions today are caused by human mistakes.  A future with only partial adoption of autonomous vehicles would see the risk for auto insurance increase, given the uncertainty of how human drivers would react to self-driving behavior.

The hypothesis made was that the overall risk portfolio for auto insurers will reduce with the further adoption of self-driving capabilities. 

One of the forerunners in autonomous vehicles is Tesla Motors, who introduced their auto-pilot autonomous technology in 2015.  Tesla recently partnered with AVIVA in Canada to launch their joint InsurMyTelsa offering. It will be interesting to see how insurance companies interpret risk as more autonomous vehicles hit the road. 

Cookhouse Lab experiences the future of transportation at GM

Exploring the evolving relationships between insurers and auto manufacturers, the project team set up an experiential day with GM to learn more about their semi-autonomous Cadillac CT6.  The team wanted to explore potential partnerships that would allow for collaborative efforts to make driving safe while providing drivers additional peace of mind. 

Working towards a minimum viable product (MVP)

With insight from one of the main auto manufacturers, the project team is looking to iterate on their minimum viable product to incorporate the following:

A new and adaptive multi-factor autonomous vehicle risk rating that would have a dependency on the level of autonomy adopted

The valuation of the proposed solution to evaluate business viability

New ownership models that would move the autonomous vehicles conversation to autonomous transportation

In the 1960’s, the Jetsons graced the small screens of families around the world.  Although I wasn’t around for the initial broadcast, I was fortunate enough to watch reruns.  I didn’t own a car or even a license, but I was fascinated by how Elroy, the young boy on the show, was able to travel throughout his day without the need to drive.  Elroy was able to do this by utilizing self-piloted personalized pods.  Close to 60 years later, we are finally on the verge of significant self-driving capabilities in vehicles but there are still some intrinsic barriers in place and many questions to answer. Stay tuned for our final project MVP! 

Project Participants

  • Munich Re
  • KPMG
  • Wawanesa Insurance
  • The Co-Operators
  • RSA
  • IBC

Subscribe to our newsletter to find out the final outcome of our autonomous vehicles project. 

Want to join in on the innovation action?! Check out our upcoming innovation projects below:

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Blockchain & Group Benefit Coordination: Project Update

Blockchain has been all the buzz and last week, Cookhouse Lab kicked off our second project in our Blockchain series. During this four week sprint, the project will delve into group benefit coordination to produce a prototype using Blockchain technology to improve the coordination of benefits process.

The problem and what we have learned to date:

The group benefit coordination process occurs when a customer is covered by multiple insurance providers, requiring the customer to submit a single claim multiple times to receive their full coverage entitlement.

In Week One, the team worked together to develop a joint understanding of the current state journey, and pains felt by both the insurers and customers within. This led the team to their initial problem statements:

“As a customer, submitting extended healthcare claims when covered by multiple insurers is complicated and confusing. I am required to submit multiple times, often have to call in, and it takes a long time for me to get my money back.”

“As a second/tertiary insurer [in the Coordination of Benefits process] I don’t know whether the shared information in an EOB (Explanation of Benefits) is valid. This can lead to required resubmissions which result in higher effort, cost, and lower customer satisfaction.”

<<< Obsessed with Blockchain? Find out what kind of future we would find ourselves in with this technology. >>>

Next milestone:

  • Build out the future state process
  • Conduct customer testing and develop wireframes
  • Gather requirements with our build partner, msg global solutions
  • Develop the Blockchain prototype using Hyperledger technology


  • The Co-operations
  • Great West Life
  • Manulife
  • Sunlife

Our project MVP will be unveiled in just two weeks! Continue to follow us on our co-creation and open innovation journey by subscribing to our blog and news updates

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Drone Insurance: Learnings & Wrap Up

The Cookhouse Lab Drone Insurance project launched on Monday 31 July. The purpose of this four-week project was to identify how to best insure drones, given that there is currently a lack of data which is preventing insurers from being able to launch products tailored to the risk requirements of individual drone users. In Weeks 1 and 2 of the project, the team focussed on developing their user personas for recreational and commercial users. The team investigated ways in which to engage consumers and prosumers, focussing on community participation. Students from the University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt (Germany) worked alongside the team and shared their risk model, enabling the team to identify and develop a prototype for an on-line, on-demand drone insurance solution.

(Photo taken with the drone of our Innovation Chef, Jason Yu)

In Weeks 3 and 4, the team conducted secondary market research to support their recommendations. To assess market appetite for drone insurance, and to assess the willingness of consumers to share their drone data that could enable an on-demand type product, the team also developed a customer survey which was launched in partnership with OmniView Tech. During the final week of the project, the team collated their survey results and completed their Final Presentation and Innovation report.

Accomplishments to Date

  • Conducted coffee shop interviews to understand the public perception and knowledge of drones.
  • Built personas for target drone users.
  • Defined problem statement.
  • Established a front-end solution based on the risk model developed by the students from the University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt.
  • Visited Omniview Tech (drone and drone accessories retailer) to gain insights into the drone market.
  • Drone flying trip to Scarborough Bluffs with external drone users.
  • Developed concept and wireframes for a data-based community solution and an on-demand drone insurance product application.
  • Surveyed “prosumer” drone group in partnership with OmniView Tech to establish the propensity of drone users to purchase insurance, and to share their data.
  • Finalised the Innovation Report and Presentation


  • The Cooperators
  • Munich Re
  • Besurance

Guest Speakers

  • Hybris (SAP)
  • University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt

Want more? Make sure to check out the project Management Report!

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Delays in APS Project – Learnings and Wrap Up

It has been six months since the Cookhouse Lab opened its doors to the insurance industry with the vision of making insurance better.  There have been several amazing co-creation projects to date including Insurance Loyalty & Rewards and Blockchain Use Cases For Insurance.  Each of these produced valuable outputs for the individual participating member insurance companies, and the Delays in APS project was no different. This project is the first since the inception of our lab (though we anticipate many more) that delivered a solution scope for an industry minimum viable product.

For any life insurance business, the requirement for an attending physician’s statement (APS) is an unpleasant experience for underwriters, physicians and applicants.  As this is a 30+ year old process today, a new industry solution for a single source for APS information would benefit all parties.  It was this shared pain for the APS that brought the consortium of insurance companies together which included three carriers and three reinsurers. 

Members at times expressed their potential concerns of IP conflicts and creating new value with peers that one completes within the market. As we continue to embark on our co-creating journey, we are persistently being challenged by:

“Are competitors willing to work together?”

Cookhouse Lab has proven, over the last several months, that yes, competitors are not only willing to, but motivated to work with other peers to solve for problems that they collectively face.

Throughout our 90-day journey together, as expected, there were hesitations amongst the group of industry peers at first. However, through an iterative approach, several techniques were used to support and improve this unique collaborative effort.

From Day 1 to Day 90, the project team always referred to themselves as APSync, which was their tribe name and identity when they worked in the Cookhouse Lab.  Not only did this bring the team together, but it also discouraged identifying themselves with their own organization when working on the project.

Defining A Shared Problem Statement

Although the pain of long delays, a legacy paper based process and physician relationship friction are shared amongst all insurance companies, it was the clear focus on the impact of these deficiencies on the customer/applicant experience that unified the effort of the companies.

Introduce A Mutual Discovery Experience

As an insurtech innovation lab, Cookhouse Lab introduces many new concepts and insurance startups to incumbent insurance companies.  Although there are varying degrees of awareness, we purposely introduced a wide spectrum of current (eg. medical clinic interviews) and bleeding edge innovations (eg. Insurance focused OCR, machine learning and underwriting API’s) to keep the team motivated and excited to discover together.

In addition, what also supported the success of the project’s MVP output was the focus on the problem statement throughout the 90 days. Living through the pain felt amongst all of the APS ecosystem was shared amongst all team members whether you were an underwriter or part of our customer feedback groups who listened to customers who felt the pain.

Supporting Shared IP Creation Through Clear Role Definitions

Although it would be ideal to have a team of generalists that could fluidly move from one role to the next, I have found that member companies have been sending role specific project members.  By assigning clear key roles towards the MVP output, no one member or organization has the entire picture until delivery date.  For this particular project, some role areas include: 

  • APS industry stakeholder statistics & current state scan 
  • Financial analysis – investment, forecast & valuation 
  • New underwriter role definition & training 
  • International market opportunity & MVP context 
  • Technology architecture 
  • Go to market strategy & phased roll out

Through everyone’s unique and valuable talents, this project led to the creation of a highly attractive opportunity of ~$90MM that is supported by the proposed project MVP. This opportunity is composed of cost savings, productivity and new business all of each were uncovered by the team at the Cookhouse Lab who leveraged our unique co-creation design thinking experience.

As the 90 day sprint came to a conclusion, the project team had a distinct experience at the Cookhouse Lab.  It was more akin to saying farewell to good friends rather than the conclusion of another company project.  It is a unique opportunity to work with a competitor.  One that has produced surprising innovation agility and output, and quite amazingly produced an MVP that can vastly improve an APS process that hasn’t changed in over 30 years. Marrying innovation trends such as machine learning and API’s with legacy insurance experiences sparked several new ideas and insights that the members will keep beyond their time on the project. Do you have a competitor collaboration story? 

Want more? Check out the Delays in APS project management report:

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Delays in APS: Project Update

We have now passed the halfway point of our Delays in Attending Physician Statement (APS) project journey. Last week, the project team hosted an update breakfast to discuss the progress that has been made so far.

The problem and what we have learned to date:

As the project team has moved along this project journey, they have iterated the problem statement to focus on the largest opportunity: 

“Insurers are losing life and living benefits due to poor data quality, lack of physician APS understanding and a paper based process culminating in long APS cycle times.”

To compare this problem statement with our original one, see our original project details

Over the past month, the team conducted field interviews in various medical clinics over the city and have discovered three key facts:

  • Physicians are complacent with the current process
  • Insurance customers abandon their application if it takes too long 
  • Clinics want the easiest solution possible

Keeping these factors in mind, the team explored the possibility of monetary bonuses from insurance companies. This theory was tested on-site in various clinics and found to be quite motivating. 

In addition, the project team identified that the APS process is very much a paper one. However, they have also learned that there are a variety of innovative technologies that are available to get around these paper processes which include: machine learning, proxy data sources, and external APIs. 

Accomplishments to date:

  • Interviewed over 20 medical clinics to gain additional data
  • Identified the life & living benefits insurance cases of Claims Adjudication and Global View of Insured 
  • Integrated prototype with a machine learning startup 
  • Created an agreement with an electronic medical record (EMR) provider

Next milestone:

  • Creating more client focused incentives to collect more data as well as clinic APS notification systems
  • Integrating underwriter “machine learning” training
  • Business casing other use cases
  • Finalizing the MVP with technical requirements 


  • Foresters Financial
  • Hannover Re (Ireland) DAC Canadian Life Branch 
  • IRB Brasil Re
  • KPMG (Canada) 
  • Manulife Financial 
  • RGA 
  • The Co-operators 

Our project MVP will be unveiled next month! Continue to follow us on our co-creation and open innovation journey by subscribing to our blog and news updates

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Loyalty & Rewards Project (Series Finale): Delivering Business Value

“Coming up with an idea is the easy part. Bringing that idea to life is the difficult part”  

This advice was given to me very early on in my career but still rings true every time I embark on a new innovation project.  As innovation professionals can attest to, it is the vetted business value of an innovation that is one of the most difficult elements to overcome when applying for budget or devising a go-to-market strategy. 

As the team worked towards the end of the project, the focus was on business casing, and the due diligence supporting the features of the newly created digital experience.  All of which were in an attempt to deliver business value planned from the beginning of the project. Some examples of these can be seen below. 


A key component of the delivery is the go-to-market business model. Given the diverse insurance and reinsurance Cookhouse Lab members and the geographies they represent, multiple models were considered to support the post-project launch of the application. Additional details were provided in an innovation report to the project member insurance companies. 

Considered Loyalty & Rewards Business Models 

Working with actuary project members, the team also produced several financial models that defined the on-going budget available to engage and retain a high lapse probability customer. Several versions were produced along with sensitivity along various lapse rates. The models were also delivered in the innovation report as a due diligence data source and analysis. 

Sensitivity testing the model based on lapse rates 


Finally, customer engagement is key to the unique value proposition of the MVP. Hence additional rounds of end customer interviews were performed to identify the challenges that would be most interesting. All customer feedback, surveys and interviews were collected and shared in the customer insight section of the innovation report. 

Insurance Challenge testing with end customers 

Bacon Reward Challenge within the Application

From this customer feedback and testing, the team defined several high interest challenges that would target motivations of several types of customers. As we know, adoption and engagement are key to any digital experience which the team delivered in a gamified challenge feature. This is one of many features that were included based on customer insights.

MVP Challenge example 

It was an intense project timeline of ideating, designing, iterating and developing the business elements of the MVP.  Captured in details in the innovation report, the deliverable was refined iteratively with customer feedback throughout the entire experience. Although it was a short 90-day journey, it was a fruitful one, as the team was successful in delivering the MVP and report to stakeholders on the final day! 

The Loyalty & Rewards Team 

It is truly incredible to see the collaboration efforts and speed that our first project team delivered! The entire Cookhouse Lab team is thrilled to embark our next set of projects! One MVP down and many more on the way! 

Never miss an update by subscribing to regular Cookhouse Innovation in your inbox!

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Loyalty & Rewards Project (Week 8): Creating a Digital Experience to Humanize Insurance

“The needs of insurers are not aligned to the needs of customers”

Often times, driven by profitability and shareholder return, corporations continue to find it a challenge to align their financial goals with customer needs. This opportunity, although identified early on in the project, continues to be a key theme for the project. The common situation that seemed to arise when comparing customer feedback to insurer feedback, was that insurers tend towards communicating by their products while customers tend to only understand insurance within their own context. 

In Week 8, the team created a concept that maps what matters to customers to an insurer’s existing products. A number of “care items” were identified during this exercise and we worked ensuring these components were integrated into our solution. 

Screenshot of the current insurance loyalty and rewards prototype, representing some examples of “care items”. 

The mobile app, codenamed “BACON”, centers a digital experience around care items to represent what customers are really protecting when they invest in insurance. However, with any mobile app, stakeholder motivation is key to success. The team sought answers to some very important questions through feedback, research, and observing market trends. 

What’s in it for customers? (Based on feedback and research)

  • A way to have all their insurance coverage in one place
  • A new way to share “positive and negative stories” with their insurers to earn rewards
  • A new place for them to leverage their wearables and IoT data

What’s in it for insurers? (Based on feedback and expert trends)

  • A new way to better understand their customers via personalization and technology (eg. IoT)
  • A new way to engage their customers by rewarding
  • A new way to incent and motivate risk mitigating behaviour (supported by research conducted)

After the needs of the stakeholders (insurers) were identified, the team focused on the commonalities between them.  Addressing these common overlapping desires is the secret sauce towards an optimal digital experience.  Follow up interviews were conducted to dig deeper in order to identify the following common opportunities. 

Common insurer opportunities:

  • Direct communication possibilities via notifications 
  • Engagement and retention via challenges 
  • Connecting Internet of Things devices to the app 
  • Behaviour changes possibilities 
  • Point conversion model 
  • Data scraping and obtaining personal info 

Although we are in the delivery phase of the project, the team remains true to the iterative feedback methodology as we continue to collect feedback on a weekly basis.

Next week, the team will continue on delivering the final MVP with a focus on some customer behavior based challenges and the development of a points to rewards financial model.

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