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2 Singapore insurtech startups secure boost in funding

2019-08-07 15:36 Wednesday


Two insurtech startups in Singapore have secured millions in funding in recent weeks, in another strong show of support for the perceived future of the industry from well-established insurance providers and overseas investors.

First of all, Singapore Life, the locally-based wealth technology and life insurance company extended its capital base with a US$90 million investment from the Japanese Sumitomo Life Insurance Company, which specializes in life insurance products.

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According to reports, the investment brings Singapore Life's total funding to US$153 million to date. Earlier in 2019, the company benefited from initial funding from IPGL (Holdings) Ltd. and Aflac Incorporated and Aberdeen Asset Management.

As part of the deal, Sumitomo Life has acquired approximately 25% of the total issued and outstanding shares in Singapore Life. In a statement from the company, it said the funding will be used to focus on the expansion of products throughout the island nation and beyond with a concentration on mobile delivery.

Walter de Oude, founder and CEO of Singapore Life, said: "Consumers today have access to thousands of financial products and services, yet none are fully integrated and compatible to their mobile-first lifestyles. Singapore Life was founded as a response to this, to encourage people to take action on their insurance needs."

As one of the only independent homegrown companies to be fully licensed by the local Monetary Authority of Singapore in the past 50 years, the firm has claimed it has a distinct advantage in pushing forward innovation in the local fintech sector.

Masahiro Hashimoto, president and CEO of Sumitomo Life, added: "We foresee rapid growth in the life insurance markets in SE Asia and Singapore in particular. We support this forecast by participating in Singapore Life as a long-term strategic investor."

Meanwhile, in a separate deal, Gigacover, another Singapore-headquartered insurtech startup, secured an undisclosed amount of early stage funding to boost their offering in the market for on-demand insurance recently.

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The backing is led by a seasoned group of Silicon Valley and SE Asia fintech investors including Vectr Fintech Partners, Alto Partners and Quest Venture Partners.

The two-year-old insurtech firm, which partners with drivers of the popular ride-hailing app Gojek, plans to use the funding to strengthen their position inside the country, and expand to take on a US$9 billion growth opportunity in the wider neighboring marketplace.

The company's focus on flexible insurance coverage is targeted at "underserved and growing economies" where the gig economy is particularly important, according to a statement.

Mark Munoz of Vectr Fintech Partners commented: "In SE Asia, 60 percent of employment is in informal employment, and this area is growing. The gig economy has governments and companies rethinking their pay structures, health insurance and other incentives for the people."

"Given the trend, we believe Gigacover bridges the gaps that currently exist in freelance worker protection," he remarked.

Early this year, Gigacover joined Gojek in a partnership to cover their drivers by providing them with earning protections of US$80 per day if they fall ill or have to spend time in hospital.

With their new cash injection, co-founder Amerson Lin shared that they plan to serve more gig work platforms that provide ad-hock, freelancer-style employment options, similar to firms like Gojek.

"Gigacover plans to co-create new insurance and healthcare benefits products to help gig work platforms better attract, retain and reward their workforce," said Amerson.

"We will use our technology to make the distribution, fulfillment and claims of these products cost-effective and sustainable," he added.

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