Turning Malaysians into better and safer drivers the Katsana way

  • I The DriveMark app tracks driver behaviour and rewards safe driving
  • Users can renew motor insurance, and get discounted premiums through their driver score


Katsana Holdings founder and MD Syed Ahmad Fuqaha (right), with MDEC senior executive Wan Mohd Farhan

SYED Ahmad Fuqaha wants to turn Malaysians into better, and safer, drivers.

For the most part, we curb bad behaviour through punishment. Speed traps and summonses serve as warnings – a painful whack on the knuckles (and wallets) for being dangerous motorists. Fuqaha, the founder and managing director of Katsana Holdings Sdn Bhd, on the other hand, wants to reward good drivers.

Enter DriveMark, a mobile telematics app that serves – among several things – to score Malaysian motorists based on their driving behaviour and reward safe driving. Keep under the speed limit and avoid steep turns and harsh braking, and you might just get rewarded with discounts on your car insurance premiums or a nifty dashboard camera.

“We’re positioning ourselves as the largest community of safe drivers. We see this as an ecosystem that encourages safer driving,” Fuqaha tells Digital News Asia. The community is certainly fairly large at the moment with around 55,000 current users, 40% of which are active, and another 20% being largely dormant but still providing DriveMark with their driving behaviour.

DriveMark – a product of Katsana Holdings – has been set a monumental task. Malaysia is, after all, a nation of traffic accidents. In 2018 alone, 548,598 accidents were recorded by the police.

Fuqaha believes that if we can self-quantify our road behaviour, we can be safer drivers. DriveMark works by running automatically on the phone without any user interference, intelligently detecting your driving movements. Once stopped, DriveMark will provide you with a score of the trip, and inform you of reckless driving based on four primary components.

From telematics to safe driving

It wasn’t always about DriveMark. The first time we spoke to Katsana almost four years ago, they were a telematics company which provided GPS and vehicle tracking products. Their solutions quickly caught the attention of enterprises, who wanted to use the technology to track their vehicles, learn about driver behaviour and recover stolen vehicles.

This led Katsana to provide fleet management and tracking services. Since their inception in 2014, Katsana has collected and analysed more than 968 million kilometres, and served more than 2,600 companies. They claim that they have seen a 62% reduction in risky behaviour in 12 months.

This efficiency led Fuqaha to an epiphany. “That’s when I realised that whatever we are doing will benefit insurers tremendously. Not only can we help reduce accidents, but also help users recover stolen cars.”

Flash forward to 2017, and Katsana has signed two memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with insurance providers Allianz Malaysia Bhd and Etiqa Insurance Bhd. Under the collaboration, Katsana would leverage on its experience in telematics and big data to provide a UBI (user-based insurance) platform to both insurers.

Katsana’s move into the insurance space was, of course, in preparation for the motor insurance de-tariffication in Malaysia. By tracking their own driving behaviour using technology and proving their safe driving, motorists are able to receive lower premiums.


Turning Malaysians into better and safer drivers the Katsana way


The benefits at hand

While working with the insurers, Katsana realised a limitation with their approach. Prior to DriveMark, Katsana’s solutions involved the use of GPS trackers that are installed in the car. “If we rely entirely on hardware, with one costing a few hundred ringgit, deploying it on a large-scale will cost a lot. It doesn’t make sense in scalable terms,” Fuqaha says.

The cost extends beyond just procuring the tracking unit – installation costs money, and so does maintaining the device and replacing broken ones. “There is an ancillary cost to using hardware as part of UBI,” Fuqaha notes.

The solution? Tap into smartphones, which millions of Malaysians already own. They just needed to develop the software for it, which is how DriveMark was born.

Fuqaha acknowledges that GPS tracking via smartphone software may not be as precise as an actual GPS tracker, but the cost is significantly lower and much easier to scale.

There are other intrinsic benefits to DriveMark that aren’t immediately apparent. For one, being on a smartphone solves an issue of trust among drivers and insurers. Fuqaha notes that motorists are cautious about insurers knowing their whereabouts, while at the same time being worried that insurers will not give them a fair driving score, intending to profit with higher premiums.

Adding to that, drivers who engage with an insurer with their own tracking system inevitably end up with the driving data being stuck to one entity. If they choose to move on to another insurer, the data can’t be shared or transferred.

“We don’t want to empower insurers: we want to empower users,” Fuqaha says. With DriveMark collecting driving data and scoring drivers, users can decide which insurer gets access to the data. The app links users to multiple insurers, letting drivers pick the insurers that can provide the best premium.

At the same time, insurers won’t know the driver’s location and whereabouts. Fuqaha assures us that Katsana only shares summarised data of their users – essentially data like total distance driven, the time of day they drive in, and general driving behaviour. “We are the guardian of user data,” he claims.  

The road ahead

Being a good driver on DriveMark means being able to get discounts on insurance premiums. There are other features on the app as well – users can, for instance, purchase and renew their road insurance easily using the app, getting premium quotations directly from Katsana’s partner insurers based on their scores.

There are other rewards, too, including monthly prizes to be won for safe drivers that range from fuel discounts to giveaways like child seats and electric scooters. DriveMark also rewards users with RM10,000 in personal accident coverage for each month they drive safely. Do well for this month, and you receive a month’s coverage in the following month.

In February this year, Katsana partnered with Petronas for the National Safest Driver Challenge. Grand prize winners were awarded 100,000 Mesra points, RM1,000 in Touch ‘n Go credit, 10,000 PLUSMiles points and RM10,000 DriveMark personal accident coverage for 12 months – an example of the kind of safe driving initiatives Katsana intends for the near future.

Fuqaha plans to expand DriveMark in Indonesia and Thailand soon, though when it comes to future goals, he aims for DriveMark to serve as a means to sell motor insurance in a way that is more relevant and personalised to drivers.

But what of the things beyond DriveMark? What of their fleet management services? In this area, Fuqaha says that Katsana is developing a platform that can read data from all kinds of IoT (internet of things) sensors. That way, the company can go beyond logistics and fleet managements and into providing solutions for all kinds of sensors, letting companies gauge temperature, humidity and pressure in their cargo.

They have recently deployed sensors for storage tanks. “IoT will be the next space to grow towards,” Fuqaha says. “We have customers of our fleet management and tracking who have requested we add sensors to their fixed assets because they love our management software and dashboard.”

This means that, in time, Katsana will be more than just a telematics company. “I suppose you can call us a ‘sensor platform’ provider,” Fuqaha quips.

Perhaps, in another four years, Katsana may have evolved into something else entirely. But they’ve surely shown that a simple telematics company could branch out into a tree of different, yet fundamentally similar, solutions.


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