Welcome, 2020! We are looking forward to another year filled with exciting developments in InsurTech and innovation in insurance in Asia. The biggest financial news to kick of the new decade has probably been the race to become one of Singapore’s first digital banks. On December 31st the application period ended and we are seeing two interesting consortiums applying for a license from an insurance point of view: Grab and Singtel as well as gaming company Razer with partners including Hong Kong insurance group FWD. Alibaba’s AntFinancial is of course also one of the 21 applicants. By mid-2020 we will know who made the grade for one of the five licenses.
The other big story is the expansion of Grab’s insurance offerings. While the company had mainly focused on insurance solutions for their drivers in 2019, they start 2020 with an offering of travel insurance for their Singaporean riders with insurance partner Chubb. We are excited to watch what other insurance services they will roll out to their millions of daily users and how this all fits into the Grow with Grab concept.
As always, there was some major news coming out of China and Hong Kong as well. At the end of December, Ping An Insurance’s fintech arm OneConnect announced a JV with Japan’s SBI Holdings called SBI OneConnect Japan. The JV will give access to OneConnect’s cloud-based and AI-driven financial services and aims to accelerate the digitalization of banking services in Japan. The other major Chinese InsurTech player, ZhongAn, is expanding as well and is betting on South-East Asia to help defy skeptical investors and turn its fortunes around. Further, Hong Kong insurance group FWD is not only making news in connection with the Singaporean digital banking license but has also announced it is going open source with partner Red Hat to boost its competitiveness and become faster and nimbler across markets and products.
Cheers to a new year, a new decade and the continuing acceleration of the insurance industry in Asia!