Grab plans digital insurance marketplace. Future of Insurance conference.
Hi there,

Spent some time out in Asia this past week. Here are some impressions on the development of digital finance in the region:

1. It's extremely early

It's worth reiterating just how early fintech development as whole is in Southeast Asia. Take payments, where most of the action is happening today.

While leading players such as Ovo (integrated with Grab and Tokopedia) and Go-Jek's Go-Pay are battling it out for adoption in Indonesia, it's estimated that cash still comprises somewhere close to 70% of all consumer payments in Southeast Asia.

2. "Super app" debate in Southeast Asia

One big ongoing debate among investors in the region is whether the majority of value from financial services innovation will accrue to the biggest internet platforms (vs. startups).

Earlier this week, reports surfaced that Grab was rumored to be in talks with Ant Financial and PayPal about spinning out its financial services unit
— which covers the GrabPay service as well as insurance and lending ventures.

Grab and Go-Jek command a lot of attention when it comes to the future of financial services in the region for a few reasons: 1/ their aggressive moves to expand mobile wallet usage 2/ early expansion into broader financial services and 3/ how China's fintech landscape played out. 

Last week, Grab announced that it will roll out a prolonged medical leave insurance product in Singapore to its driver-partners, the first product to emerge from its joint venture struck three months ago with Zhong An International.

But Grab's broader, long-term plan in insurance is to build out a digital marketplace that will provide insurance products at reduced premiums to users through the Grab mobile app.

While tens of billions of dollars have gone into China's fintech sector in recent years, a dichotomy has emerged. Today, the valuation of Ant Financial currently stands at $150B, while the aggregate market cap of 9 other Chinese consumer fintech IPOs since 2017 (PPDai, Lexin, Qudian, Zhong An, Tiger Brokers, etc.) stands at just over $17B.

This is because the combination of massive distribution and data can be a powerful mix for Asia's leading platforms. Consider Ant's flagship Tianhong Yu'e Bao money market fund, which despite regulatory pressures to shrink, now has more than one-third of the Chinese population invested.

3. Expect more digital insurers in Asia

Today, there are a handful of digital insurers in Asia. In India, Acko recently received additional funding, while Zhong An recently received a virtual banking license in Hong Kong.

Expect more digital insurers to launch in Asia eventually. One interesting proposition is a forthcoming auto insurance venture in Korea called Carrot, formed between Hanwha General Insurance, SK Telecom, and Hyundai.

Reinsurers are excited about the potential in Asia. We'll be speaking with Munich Re Digital Partners CEO Andy Rear on its expansion plans in Asia at our Future of Insurance conference in June. Get tickets here.

How a 156-year-old life insurer built a leading couples finance app

We published a new brief available to CB Insights clients on John Hancock's digital savings and investing app Twine, which allows couples to collaborate on long-term financial goals such as a house, a wedding, or a vacation. Today, Twine ranks 36th in the top "Finance" apps in the App Store.

Hancock’s decision to establish Twine is one of just a couple existing examples in which a financial services incumbent acquired a startup to build out or continue operating a direct-to-consumer offering successfully.

Only Clarity Money, the personal finance management app acquired by Goldman Sachs for an estimated $100M in April 2018, also ranks among the top 50 ‘Finance’ apps in the App Store.

But Twine differs from Clarity in that Hancock acquired financial advisor software startup Guide Financial in order to build the Twine app from scratch, whereas Clarity was already operating a popular app when Goldman acquired it. 

We looked at press mentions, interviews, and spoke to Hancock’s head of innovation to understand how the life insurer developed Twine. Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see whether Hancock looks to integrate additional financial products onto the app such as its Vitality life insurance products.

Have a great weekend,

P.S. We still have great discounts on bundled tickets for our Future of Insurance (FoI) and Future of Fintech (FoF) events taking place June 11-13 in NYC. Get them here.
CB Insights Hits

[Client only] How a 156-year-old life insurer built a leading couples finance app
This report takes a data-driven look at global insurance tech trends, with a focus on cyber insurance. 
Read the post.

Insurance trends to watch in 2019
This slide briefing analyzes some of the industry and tech trends to watch in 2019 from telematics to small commercial and more.
Get the deck.
Deals, News, & Perspectives 

A curated mix of recent articles on insurance tech financings, exits, hiring, product launches, partnerships, and perspectives.


Shuidihuzhu raises $74M. The China-based mutual aid platform and health insurance startup works with more than 50 insurance companies and has more than 75M registered users. Investors include Tencent and Banyan Capital.

Acko raises $65M. The India-based startup sells car and bike insurance directly to consumers, and co-creates products and solutions which cater to new economy and internet companies. Binny Bansal, RPM Ventures, and Intact Ventures led the round.
Economic Times

CXA Group raises $25M. The Singapore-based personalized employee health and wellness benefits platform now serves more than 600 companies and more than 400,000 employees in 20 countries. Investors include HSBC, Singtel Innov8, and Telkom Indonesia MDI Ventures.

Hibob raises $20M. The Tel Aviv-based provider of cloud-based HR and benefits management software will use the funds to accelerate expansion in the US and Europe.

Ease raises $19M. The HR and benefits administration software startup works with more than 1,200 brokerage agencies and 60,000 employers.

Doubao raises $14M. The Beijing-based startup provides employees with benefits planning, health management, and insurance services for enterprises.
Pencil News

Catch raises $5.1M. The Boston-based startup sells health insurance, retirement savings plans, and tax withholding directly to freelancers and contractors. Investors include Khosla Ventures, Nyca Partners, and Kindred Ventures.

Finaeo raises $4M. The Toronto-based startup offers a front-end software plaform for insurance advisors that helps with repetitive tasks such as auto-filling applications. Investors include Luge Capital and RGAx.

BriteCo raises $2M. The Evanston-based startup provides consumers with verified appraisals and immediate replacement coverage by HDI Global.

By (re)insurers

Prudential Financial invests in Point. The shared home equity provider plans to work with Prudential to create innovative solutions for first-time homebuyers and those living in challenging markets.


Nationwide to create on-demand coverage for rideshare drivers. Nationwide is partnering with Slice Labs to develop on-demand rideshare insurance solutions for rideshare drivers working for transportation network companies (TNC) such as Uber and Lyft.
Insurance Business

Liberty Mutual partners with Outdoorsy. The partnership includes three levels of RV rental insurance throughout the US and Canada.

Sompo Japan partners with One Concern. Sompo will roll out One Concern's app to help businesses and municipalities understand natural disaster risks and provide financial protection against potential loss and damage.
Nikkei Asian Review

State Auto partners with Cape Analytics. State Auto is using the property intelligence solution for its homeowner insurance offering.
Insurance News Net

News & Analysis

Grab ventures into micro-insurance market. Grab is set to launch its insurance marketplace in April, which will be directly available from the Grab app and will offer policies tailored to the lifestyle needs of micro-entrepreneurs.
Singapore Business Review

Insurtech FY2018 financials. Adrian Jones and Matteo Carbone analyze the latest quarterly results from Root, Metromile, and Lemonade.
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