LITTLE STARS: Ralph Hazell, founder, Gaggel phone cover

Written by Lisa Stanley Mann on 3rd October 2016

Almost certainly you have dropped your phone down the loo at least once, or if not then certainly on the floor, so you’ll know that feeling.

And if the bowl of rice trick didn’t work for you and you’ve lost all the kids’ pics you’d not got round to uploading to the cloud, or your screen is too damaged to see who is calling, then you will either have had to shell out on a new screen or even new phone, or make an (unlikely to pay out) claim to whoever your mobile phone insurance is with.

Luckily for the smartphone owners of the future, there’s a man with a plan to change all that hassle and heartache. One time insurance broker turned fintech entrepreneur Ralph Hazell has launched Gaggel, a new peer-to-peer insurance-type product (*not actually insurance though*) for smartphones.

Gaggel works like a social network, whereby you link up with your mates and pay a monthly sum into an online kitty which pays out whenever one of your group needs to claim on it to get their drowned or smashed phone repaired.

It’s a great concept and we’re going to try it. Here’s what Ralph has to say about disrupting the insurance market and his sustainable future financial must-haves.

  1. How would you rate your own personal finances for goodness, on a scale of 1 to 10? Why?

I think I would give myself a 7. As an entrepreneur in the alternative/P2P finance sector I try as much as possible to use providers who are making finance fairer and more transparent. Rather than leave spare money in a savings account I will out it put to work with a peer to peer sending platform such as Ratesetter. Also if I’m changing some foreign currency I will also use a peer-to-peer provider having started Moneyswap, the first peer-to-peer currency exchange.

2. What bit of your finances would you most like to change for the better?

I sold a flat in central London in 2007, and for a few years I thought I was pretty clever as the financial crisis unfolded. But one thing I did learn is that another side benefit of having money tied up in property is that it’s hard to get hold of and especially when you are a rookie entrepreneur (as I was then) its too easy to invest a lot of your available capital, rather than just cutting corners and bootstrapping your business.

3. Which provider are you most impressed by? Why?

For savings products I’ve found Nutmeg very good value and really easy to use. For day to day banking I use Barclays, but their track record in investing in non-sustainable sectors has led me to open an account with the start-up bank Monzo, they have a great user experience and data dashboard.

4. Which provider would you like to see hoisted by their own petard? Why?

As someone who is passionate about finding ways to improve financial services, I am very sceptical of many of the products that we are sold and in particular pensions and insurance. One of the senior guys at the Bank of England recently admitted that he doesn’t understand how his pension works. As for insurance – its enough to say that the main players have been around for 200 years and their practises have probably not changed much. I think we’re going to see same major digital disruption in the insurance industry.

5. Do you think you have lost out financially by making sustainable choices?

I’m definitely a sucker for trying any new P2P/collaborative business for any sector; I’ve bought some shares in a company based in Australia and New Zealand that is using blockchain technology to deliver a genuine peer-to-peer solar energy sharing platform. The concept of consumers not relying on the legacy energy grid is very appealing. I recently joined the waiting list to buy a Tesla wall / house energy battery and am really excited about the potential for solar energy, with some predictions having a zero cost of electricity to consumers by 2030, which would be amazing.

6. What personal finance headline would you most like to read in the next year, and why?

I think interest rates need to go up and return to a normal level otherwise we are creating a lot of problems down the road in terms of an inflated property market and a bond market bubble that could be dangerous if it collapses. Having zero interest rates is also dis- incentivising savers and encouraging speculation! Which is probably not going to end well.