Chinese online insurer ZhongAn and online-to-offline platform Grab will set up a joint venture in Southeast Asia to sell insurance products to users through the latter's mobile app.
The digital insurance platform would be launched in Singapore in the first half of this year, before being rolled out in other markets, according to a joint release by the two companies. Users would be able to buy insurance through their mobile phones, allowing them to directly browse and pay for the coverage without going through an agent or broker, the companies said.
"The launch of our insurance platform is part of our commitment to becoming the leading everyday superapp in the region," said Ming Maa, President of Grab.
Grab started out as a ride-booking app for taxis before branching out to private-hire cars and has since evolved into providing more online-to-offline services from food delivery to groceries. The company is entering financial services as it seeks to provide more products and services to its user base. This year, Grab plans to expand into cross-border remittance and online healthcare.
For ZhongAn, Southeast Asia represents a largely untapped market with its combined population of about 655 million. Chinese internet companies have been looking to the region, which shares some similarities with China in terms of development and scale, as they seek to expand beyond their home market"We hope the Asian market will act as a bridgehead in expanding our business globally with the mission of redefining insurance in the connected world," said Bill Song, chief operating officer of ZA International, the international arm of ZhongAn.
ZhongAn and Grab share SoftBank Group as a shareholder. The online insurer listed in Hong Kong in 2017 and has a current market capitalisation of HK$38.5 billion.
This article was first published in South China Morning Post.