New industry regulations could see people arranging and paying for their entire funeral plan online. A consequence of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) rules, which came into effect this summer, is that customers would be able to plan everything remotely, from the design of their coffin to their choice of music.
Coatbridge-based Hybrid Anchor, which manages data on behalf of some of Britain’s biggest funeral firms, is helping those providers to ensure existing case files held on their internal data management systems are compliant with the new regulations.
The same digital processes it is using to transfer the data onto a cloud-based platform could be used to commercialise the products and services offered by funeral plan providers.
John Loudon, managing director of Hybrid Anchor, which specialises in developing websites and data management systems for businesses in heavily-regulated industries, said: “Until now, funeral plan providers have stored their customers’ data on their own, internal content management systems.
“To comply with new regulations, they are moving to cloud-based platforms which has opened up new e-commerce possibilities.
“There is an option to commercialise the new cloud-based tool and develop the data points into a product builder with a kiosk, where customers will be able to choose all the elements of their funeral online.”
He added: “At the moment, you can walk into a funeral provider’s store, or ring the call centre, and the agent will input your information into their system.
“What’s quite exciting is that we are about to push into that space by building a kiosk, which will allow customers to do it themselves, like purchasing a car.”
Since the start of August, a total of 26 providers permitted by the FCA to offer pre-paid funeral plans, must meet new, tighter conditions.
Among the new regulations imposed on the group - which together hold 1.6 million existing funeral plans, representing 87 per cent of the market - is a ban on cold calling and on commission payments to intermediaries, such as funeral directors. Plans must deliver a funeral unless the customer dies within two years of purchase.