AIP News RoundUp – Episode 34 – Theresa Blissing and Michael Waitze – Is Bitcoin Bad for Blockchain?

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Michael Waitze has been podcasting with some of the best investors and business builders globally and discussing all things startup with them from an Asian perspective. Michael worked in Global Finance for more than 20 years, employed by firms like Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs, primarily in Tokyo. Michael always maintained a particular focus on how technology could be used successfully to make businesses more efficient and to drive P/L growth. Michael is quite skilled at connecting people and capital to innovative ideas and is a trusted advisor to both investors and founders. Michael is a leader in the digital media space, having pioneered the concept of a podcast network in Asia while building the biggest and fastest-growing listener base in the region. His flagship website, AsiaTechPodcast.com, has listeners in over 100 countries and is available on virtually every podcast player that supports RSS feeds.

Theresa is the founder of the Asia InsurTech Podcast and a Thought Leader on innovation in insurance in Asia. She has worked for ten years for leading multinational insurers in Europe and Asia before turning to management consulting and venture building with the goal of transforming the insurance industry and helping shape its future in the region.

Happy New Year! Asia InsurTech Podcast is back with more exciting news kicking off 2021!

Grab Financial Group (GFG) starts the year with a bang, securing over US$300 million in their series A funding round. According to Grab, GFG  increased its total revenue by over 40% in 2020 vs 2019. Its insurance distribution reached over 4.5 million monthly active users and distributed over 70 million insurance policies to date. Listen here to our episodes with Tom Duncan, Head of Insurance at GFG. 

In Indonesia, BCP, the holding company of e-wallet OVO, and Za Tech form an InsurTech JV. The goal is to help local insurance companies to digitize their business and allow them to sell bite-size insurance products at scale. And Grab competitor Gojek and e-commerce giant Tokopedia are reportedly in talks of a merger. The two most valuable unicorns in Indonesia have a combined valuation of US$18 billion. Both companies are under pressure from competitors, losing money, and market share. 

In Singapore, GoBear ceased operations, officially due to COVID and the challenging fundraising environment. This might not be the full truth. Go Bear has been struggling to pivot. Despite raising an additional US$17 million from its long-term Dutch investors Aegon and Walvis in May 2020, several senior executives including the former co-founders had left the startup early last year.  

In other news, ThaiRe announced it is deploying a reinsurance smart contract platform based on IBM’s blockchain capabilities. Thailand is known to be open to blockchain technology and we have seen several examples in the banking space already. In India, WhatsApp announced the rollout of health insurance and micro-pension products together with insurance partners SBI General, HDFC Pension, and Singapore-based firm PinBox Solutions. 

Other companies mentioned in this episode: Shopee, Signal, BitKub

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