EP 26 -Tom Duncan – Head of Insurance at Grab – Radically Simplifying the Product


Michael Waitze worked in Global Finance for more than 20 years, employed by firms like Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, primarily in Tokyo.  Michael lived and worked in Tokyo from February 1990 until December 2011.  Michael always maintained a particular focus on how technology could be used to make businesses more efficient and to drive P/L growth. Michael is a leader in the digital media space, building one of the biggest and fastest-growing podcast listener bases in the region.  His AsiaTechPodcast.com show has listeners in more than 170 countries and his company, Michael Waitze Media produces some of Asia’s most popular podcasts.

Tom Duncan

Tom is the Head of Insurance and Wealth at Grab Financial Group (GFG), where he oversees the strategic direction and development of the insurance and wealth offerings in GFG. He and the team are on a mission to help millions of people in Southeast Asia access simple and flexible financial services, by using technology and data to design innovative digital solutions. Prior to joining Grab, Tom was part of the early team at Chubb Digital, where he was Head of Digital Partnerships APAC. In this role, he built strategic partnerships with technology companies and financial institutions across Asia. Tom has over 15 years experience in financial services including at ANZ and Barclays in Australasia and Singapore. He has also been part of several startups including as Head of Partnerships for an insurtech-focused digital consultancy and as COO of an early stage HR tech startup. Tom has a Bachelor of Commerce in Economics and Finance from the University of Otago in New Zealand and an Executive MBA from INSEAD. A New Zealander by nationality, Tom has lived in Singapore for the last nine years with his wife and three young children. Outside of work he likes to get into the outdoors with his family, including on trips back to New Zealand.

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In this episode, Michael Waitze spoke to Tom Duncan, the Head of Insurance at Grab. Tom is not new to the financial services sector in general and the insurance business in particular.   After more than a decade working in Global Markets at banks like ANZ and Barclays, Tom moved into the startup world and then became the Head of Digital Partnerships at Chubb in Singapore.

In a theme common to a lot of our recent conversations, Tom notes that an important part of the InsurTech space is its developing focus on alternative distribution channels.  Employing partnerships with companies like Chubb and its announced joint venture with Zhong An Technology, Grab continues to methodically build out its insurance product and marketplace.

Tom gives insight into Grab’s strategy selling insurance within the ride-hailing platform and ecosystem. Today, Grab’s insurance strategy focuses on alternative distribution channels and strategic partnerships with insurers including NTUC Income. Tom also touches on their partnership with Zhong An Technology, their plans to roll out their insurance capabilities across Southeast Asia and comments on Grab’s potential to build its own underwriting capabilities. 

Michael and Tom also discuss the importance of consumer education on financial products. Grab has launched initiatives to raise awareness for insurance products among their drivers, partners, and clients. Their strategy is to develop simple and easy to understand micro-insurance products that are relevant to the lives of entrepreneurs and the clients that use its platform across the board.

Other companies mentioned in this episode:

GoJek, Tokopedia, Sunday, Traveloka, Chubb, Acko

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