It is only the first month of the New Year and we already have Asia’s first InsurTech unicorn of 2021. Certainly a promising start! Indian InsurTech and licensed general insurer Digit achieved a valuation of US$1.9 billion. The company was only founded in 2017 by industry veteran Kamesh Goyal, who previously worked for insurance incumbent Allianz and to whom we spoke in our latest episode.
In Japan, justInCase launched a SaaS for digital insurance sales called「Master. justInCase is Japan’s first InsurTech company and received an insurance license in early 2018. In 2020, the InsurTech launched the first peer-to-peer concept approved by the regulatory sandbox program in Japan. Now they are back with their own technology arm, providing their technology solutions to incumbent insurers including Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance and JI Accident & Fire insurance. Listen to our episodes with founder Kazy Hata here and here.
Insurers as well as startups offering their cutting edge technology as SaaS is a trend we have been following for a while. Another company playing in that space is Bolttech. In addition, Bolttech acts as a device protection provider and has now rebranded Thai online aggregator Frank.co.th into the Bolttech brand. Frank.co.th, founded by Harprem Doowa, was acquired in December 2018 by Bolttech and FWD parent Pacific Century Group and is now operating under the Bolttech brand. Listen to our episodes with Harprem Doowa, Bolttech GM Thailand Bob Wouters, and Melissa Wong, the Group Chief Digital Officer at Bolttech.
A new trend we are seeing in the insurance space is no-code development. In Japan, Sompo partnered with EasySend with the aim to build a new marine insurance accident notification system using the no-code platform. Many Japanese insurers are very open to deploying new technologies in partnerships with InsurTechs from overseas. Sompo already has established partnerships with US InsurTechs Slice and Trov.
In Hong Kong, virtual bank ZA Bank has been granted an insurance agency license by the Hong Kong Insurance Authority (IA) and can now act as an agent for sister company ZA Insure. This digital version of a bancassurance partnership raises questions about the regulatory boundaries of virtual insurers and banks. Can virtual insurers partner with an incumbent bank but only sell on their mobile app?