TORONTO – Since launching in January, Juniper Life Insurance – a company that lets people purchase term insurance online – has proven it’s not afraid to experiment and watch those experiments fail.

It’s the logical path to success, said the company’s founder and president Derryn Shrosbree, and it’s why they’re unafraid to test a new cryptocurrency called PoliSure, a new way for customers to pay for insurance.

“We failed three times trying to get this thing to market … now we’re somewhat coming through the customer journey the right way,” Shrosbree told a packed hall at Dx3 Canada’s main hall, referring to Juniper’s initial customer surveys.

“Asking for their name first was a big mistake,” he said. “There was a huge drop-off rate when they were asked that.”

After a while, the team discovered the secret to holding people’s attention was putting the tough questions in the front of the survey, and the easy ones in the back. Anonymous users had no problem telling Juniper they were alcoholics, said Shrosbree, which then drew them closer to contentious questions, such as “What’s your name” and “What’s your email address?” He said these types of risks were necessary to move the company forward in a high-fear market.

And barely two months after launching the online platform, Juniper, which insures more than 200,000 mutual members across Canada, is dabbling with cryptocurrency.

Derryn Shrosbree, founder and president of Juniper Life Insurance. Shrosbree has been in the cryptocurrency market for several years, and recently sold his Toronto condo for 33 bitcoins, worth approximately $445,000.

“We’re 100 per cent not sure it’s going to work. But we’re going to try,” said Shrosbree.”When you think you’re doing the right thing, you might be, but don’t be scared to fail, again and again. But if you stop failing, you’ll never succeed.”

PoliSure is a blockchain-based cryptocurrency with 10 billion non-minable coins and is built on a soon-to-be open-source, proof-of-stake concept, meaning transactions on the blockchain aren’t validated by miners. Instead, they’re validated by someone based on various combinations of random selection and wealth or age.

Everyone at Shrosbree’s Lunch and Learn received a scratch ticket that contained anywhere from $100 to $1,000 worth of PoliSure coins that can be used to buy insurance through Juniper. The company decided to test the cryptocurrency to see if they could further simplify the customer experience.

A Juniper Insurance scratch card for PoliSure cryptocoins. Photo by Alex Coop.

“Credit cards are fairly frictionless, but fairly expensive. Cryptocurrency is fairly cheap,” he explained after the presentation. “The layer cake of insurance is five levels: reassurance, insurance, MGA, broker and customer. We are looking at options how we can streamline that layer cake and give customers a simple, fast and affordable solution to ensure themselves and their families,” he said.

Juniper is way ahead of the blockchain game compared to other insurance companies, Steven Dryall told ITBusiness.ca after the presentation. Dryall helped build Juniper’s new token, and also works for Incipient, a financial services company that helps others enter the world of blockchain and cryptocurrency.

“[Juniper] is super forward thinking … when the concept of a cryptocurrency came up they were like ‘of course, yes we should do that,’ he said.

While Shrosbree couldn’t say which market PoliSure will go public on, he emphasized it’s only a matter of time before it does. The next step is to grow the online community and get the cryptocurrency into as many wallets as possible before it goes to market, said Dryall.

“Once it does hit the exchange markets, life insurance will be just one of a whole bunch stuff that you’ll be able to trade for,” he said.

The only way to purchase the cryptocoin currently is through Juniper, with real money.

Navigating life insurance options can be very stressful, but it’s an essential part of an individual life. It only made sense to try and simplify the process of getting it, said Shrosbree. While there’s a chance PoliSure won’t work, Shrosbree said he’s confident it will follow in the footsteps of credit cards, a once untrusted form of payment that in 2016 represented nearly 70 per cent of all transactions in Canada.

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