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BMW Financial Services announces insurtech partnership with Wrisk 

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BMW Financial Services announces insurtech partnership with Wrisk 

UK startup to deliver BMW and MINI Car Insurance products after graduating from the BMW Innovation Lab

BMW Financial Services (GB) Ltd has announced a partnership with Wrisk that will see the insurtech startup become the sole supplier of BMW and MINI Car Insurance.

The partnership follows Wrisk’s time in the first BMW Innovation Lab in 2017, which saw the team win on the final pitch day after developing the platform now being used by BMW.

Wrisk is a consumer-facing app that will enable customers to buy and manage multiple types of insurance in a single plan. The firm recently completed a second Seedrs crowdfunding raise, meeting its £500,000 target in just two days, and eventually raised just over £1 million.

The platform now being used to supply BMW and MINI Car Insurance was developed during Wrisk’s time at the BMW Innovation Lab, a corporate technology incubator, in 2016. The Lab provides an opportunity for early-stage startup companies to partner with BMW Group’s UK commercial divisions.

The BMW Innovation Lab is aimed at companies with disruptive business models or new technologies that could be used to benefit BMW customers. Wrisk was one of four startups that took part in the first Innovation Lab that have now gone on to develop long-term business relationships with the automotive firm. The second BMW Innovation Lab was announced in September 2017, with a further four firms being incubated in 2018.

As the provider of BMW and MINI Car Insurance products and services, Wrisk will offer direct to consumer car insurance for both brands. It will also support retailer insurance sales, with a seven-day complimentary car insurance product that will be offered to a customer who purchases a new or approved used BMW or MINI vehicle, through the BMW and MINI network.

Niall Barton, Co-Founder and CEO at Wrisk, said: “The insurance industry has been slow to keep up with the demands of today’s tech-savvy and digital-first audience. Wrisk is the new kid on the block. This means we move quickly and innovate at speed. In a world where convenience is king, this is invaluable – rebuilding insurance to fit around how the consumer wants to interact with their insurance provider and engaging on their terms.”

Steve Cann, General Manager, Insurance Solutions at BMW Financial Services (GB) Ltd, said: “Our partnership with Wrisk is a great example of how we are harnessing innovation at BMW. The market for vehicle insurance is changing dramatically. We have worked closely with Wrisk to come up with ways as to how we can future proof these services. The result is a platform that offers on-demand services and products that are hyper-convenient for the customer.”

Cann added: “This has been made possible because of the BMW Innovation Lab. As a customer-first business, we want to ensure that we deliver value. But as a large global firm, we can often be slow to innovate. Collaboration with disruptive technology players is the only way our industry can ensure it continues to thrive and modernise. We are excited at the opportunities this presents us, and look forward to continuing to innovate with more companies like Wrisk.”

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Bitcoin, ether hit fresh highs

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Bitcoin, ether hit fresh highs 1

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Bitcoin hit a fresh high in Asian trading on Saturday, extending a two-month rally that saw its market capitalisation cross $1 trillion a day earlier.

The world’s most popular cryptocurrency rose to an record $56,620, taking its weekly gain to 18%. It has surged more than 92% this year.

Bitcoin’s gains have been fuelled by evidence it is gaining acceptance among mainstream investors and companies, such as Tesla Inc, Mastercard Inc and BNY Mellon.

Ether, the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization and daily volume, hit a record $2,040.62, for a weekly gain of about 12%.

Ether is the digital currency or token that facilitates transactions on the ethereum blockchain. In the crypto world, the terms ether and ethereum have become interchangeable.

Ether futures contracts launched on derivatives exchange CME earlier this month.

(Reporting by Vidya Ranganathan; Editing by William Mallard)

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World Bank pushing for standard vaccine contracts, more disclosure from makers

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World Bank pushing for standard vaccine contracts, more disclosure from makers 2

By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The World Bank is working to standardize COVID-19 vaccine contracts that countries are signing with drug makers, and is pushing manufacturers to be more open about where doses are headed, as it races to get more vaccines to poor countries, the bank’s president said on Friday.

World Bank President David Malpass told Reuters he expected the bank’s board to have approved $1.6 billion in vaccine funding for 12 countries, including the Philippines, Bangladesh, Tunisia and Ethiopia, by the end of March, with 30 more to follow shortly thereafter.

The bank is working with local governments to identify and fill gaps in distribution capacity, after they purchase vaccines under a $12 billion World Bank program, and also to standardize the contracts they are signing with manufacturers, he said.

The bank’s International Finance Corp, its private financing arm, has $4 billion to invest in expanding existing production plants or building new ones, including in developed countries, but needs more data on where current production is headed, he said.

“We are eager to be investing in new capacity, but it’s hard to do because you don’t know how much of the existing capacity is already committed to the various off-takers,” Malpass said in an interview with Reuters. New or expanded plants could be used to produce other types of vaccinations in the future, he said.

The bank’s funds could be used to expand plants in advanced economies, if the production was earmarked for developing nations, he said.

Malpass welcomed Friday’s pledge by the Group of Seven rich countries to intensify cooperation on the pandemic, saying it could help jump-start deliveries of vaccines to poorer countries, which are lagging far behind rich countries in getting shots in arms.

Data compiled by Our World In Data, a scientific online publication, showed Israel was leading the world in COVID-19 vaccinations, with nearly 82 of 100 people vaccinated, while India and Bangladesh reported less than one person per 100, Many African countries have not started at all.

Malpass said he was heartened by news about new vaccines coming down the road, and about Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE seeking permission to store their vaccine at higher temperatures, which would ease another obstacle to deliveries in lower-income countries.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Heather Timmons and Leslie Adler)

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Google to evaluate executive performance on diversity, inclusion

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Google to evaluate executive performance on diversity, inclusion 3

By Paresh Dave

(Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google will evaluate the performance of its vice presidents and above on team diversity and inclusion starting this year, the company said on Friday in one of several responses to concerns about its treatment of a Black scientist.

Timnit Gebru, co-leader of Google’s ethical artificial intelligence research team, said in December that Google abruptly fired her after she criticized its diversity efforts and threatened to resign.

Alphabet and Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai ordered a review of the situation. While Google declined to share specific findings, the company announced on Friday it will engage human resources specialists during sensitive employee departures.

Pichai in June said that by 2025, Google aims to have 30% more of its leaders come from underrepresented groups, with a focus on Black, Latinx and Native American leaders in the United States and female technical leaders globally. About 96% of Google’s U.S. leaders at the time were white or Asian, and 73% globally were men.

As a result of the investigation, the company also expanded a commitment announced in June to devote more resources to retaining and promoting existing employees, including by expanding a team addressing disputes among workers and their managers.

The diversity component of executive performance reviews was not previously announced, and the company did not immediately share details about what would be measured and how pay would be affected.

Alphabet for years had rejected proposals from shareholders and employees to set diversity goals and tie executive pay to them.

Irene Knapp, a former Google employee who advocated for one such proposal at a 2018 shareholder meeting, said on Friday, “I am pleased that they met our demand from 2018, which was a bare minimum that should have been easy to do immediately.”

Evaluating managers on diversity goals is becoming more commonplace. McDonald’s Corp on Thursday tied executive bonuses to diversity.

(Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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