Ten­cent ex­pands in­sur­ance foot­print

China Daily (USA) - - BUSINESS - By WU YIYAO and HE WEI in Shang­hai Con­tact the writ­ers at wuyiyao@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Chi­nese in­ter­net giant Ten­cent Hold­ings has ex­panded its range of in­sur­ance of­fer­ings af­ter an in­sur­ance agency backed by it got the nec­es­sary ap­proval.

The in­ter­net giant of over 900 mil­lion users al­ready has a pres­ence in the life and prop­erty in­sur­ance sec­tors and an in­sur­ance agency.

Ac­cord­ing to an­a­lysts, the in­sur­ance sec­tor is poised for more ac­tiv­ity as there would be more ser­vices that would in­te­grate in­ter­net-based tech­nolo­gies and in­sur­ance in the fu­ture. The rapid ad­vent of fi­nan­cial tech­nol­ogy and grow­ing de­mand for pro­tec­tion in China would fuel more in­ter­est in the in­sur­ance seg­ment, they said.

Weimin In­sur­ance Agency, the Ten­cent-backed in­sur­ance agent firm, got the green light from the China In­sur­ance Reg­u­la­tory Com­mis­sion on Wed­nes­day. Ten­cent Hold­ings holds 57.8 per­cent stake in Weimin In­sur­ance Agency, which has a reg­is­tered cap­i­tal of 200 mil­lion yuan ($30 mil­lion).

Users of Ten­cent’s so­cial net­works tools, such as WeChat and in­stant mes­sen­ger QQ, would soon find Weimin em­bed­ded in their fre­quently used ap­pli­ca­tions.

Be­sides Weimin, Ten­cent has in­vested in Zhong An In­sur­ance, which of­fers both life and non-life poli­cies. Ten­cent Hold­ings holds some 12.1 per­cent of Zhong An, which got listed in Hong Kong on Sept 28. Ten­cent also holds a 20 per­cent stake in global life in­surer Aviva and a 15 per­cent share in He­tai Life In­sur­ance.

“Big in­ter­net com­pa­nies will not miss the op­por­tu­ni­ties brought by fast ex­pand­ing de­mand for fin­tech ser­vices, par­tic­u­larly in­ter­net-based in­sur­ance,” said Chen Maochuan, an an­a­lyst with Anal­y­sis In­ter­na­tional, con­sul­tancy and mar­ket in­for­ma­tion re­search provider.

“In­ter­net com­pa­nies aim to hold core as­sets, which are cus­tomer re­sources. They are not go­ing to just stay as dis­trib­u­tors. More moves will be made to ful­fill de­mand in the en­tire sup­ply chain of the in­sur­ance mar­ket,” he said.

Other in­ter­net gi­ants, such as e-com­merce giant Alibaba Group Hold­ing Ltd have been ac­tively tap­ping the in­sur­ance mar­ket in re­cent years.

Alibaba-backed Ant Fi­nan­cial up­graded its in­sur­ance busi­ness group in 2016, cre­at­ing an open plat­form that hosts some 80 in­sur­ance com­pa­nies with more than 2,000 prod­ucts. The com­pany claimed that its in­sur­ance plat­form could reach 400 mil­lion peo­ple. a

Weimin In­sur­ance Agency’s reg­is­tered cap­i­tal

It also shares data with 18 in­sur­ers so that they can lever­age th­ese data for pre­cise de­mand fore­cast and bet­ter risk con­trol, said Xu Yan, op­er­at­ing gen­eral-man­ager of Ant Fi­nan­cial’s in­sur­ance group.

For in­stance, the firm has launched a car in­sur­ance score rang­ing from 300 to 700, a range that is based on a car owner’s user por­trait and risk anal­y­sis.

“De­mand for life in­sur­ance and non-life in­sur­ance will con­tinue to ex­pand fast in the next few years amid de­mo­graphic changes, with more mo­bil­ity and ris­ing num­ber of wealthy house­holds that would need pro­tec­tion,” said a re­search note from Zhong­tai Se­cu­ri­ties.

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