Inside Singapore’s insurtech revolution

By Nurfilzah Rohaidi

Prudential Singapore wants to collaborate with fintech startups all over the world to co-develop the next wave of solutions.

The insurance industry has been impervious to change for many years - but all that is different now with the digital revolution. Insurtech is a growing force around the world, with startups in the space receiving $2.3 billion worth of funding in 2017.

But while three in four insurance industry players acknowledge ongoing disruption in the industry, “only 43% have fintech at the heart of their corporate strategy”, according to a report by PwC. To face disruption head-on, insurance providers are increasingly working with fintech startups to co-innovate solutions and quickly bring them to market.

“This year, there is a strong focus on developing the digital economy, and this is an area where B2B and B2G partnerships are crucial in driving innovation and growth,” said Wilf Blackburn, Chief Executive Officer of Prudential Singapore, at the recent ASEAN-EU Business Summit 2018 held in Singapore.

Co-creating solutions

The company wants to work with the best and brightest minds in fintech, build new digital services in finance, and boost the startup economy.

“Creating such an ecosystem is actually very easy in Singapore, where the regulators are progressive and encourage close collaboration between themselves, financial institutions and fintech startups,” Blackburn remarked.
“Creating such an ecosystem is actually very easy in Singapore, where the regulators are progressive."
The company has launched PRU Fintegrate, a rapid deployment programme offering startups the unique opportunity to build and validate prototypes at scale and speed. The company is partnering with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on this effort, says CTO Arvind Mathur.

The programme began with a tie-up with the Singapore Fintech Festival in 2017. Prudential invited startups globally, including those participating in the festival’s Global Fintech Hackcelerator programme, to offer a solution to one of 19 insurance-related problem statements. These startups were challenged to solve statements related to customer engagement, financial inclusion, and Regtech, for instance.

Insurtech around the world

Such partnerships are a growing trend all over the world, as players look to tap on the wealth of ideas in the startup space – which often come with a fresh injection of energy, passion and the drive to get things done.

Insurance provider MetLife recently launched ‘collab 3.0 EMEA’, inviting entrepreneurs and insurtechs to scale up their business while solving some of the company’s biggest innovation challenges around the world. The three winners of last year’s competition each won a JPY 10 million (US$94,500) contract to work on a project with MetLife Japan.

Meanwhile, IT company DXC Technology has just announced the winners of its SpringBoard insurtech competition, meant to help boost innovation amongst startups in Australia. One of the winners had developed a platform that will provide brokers and underwriters with real-time visibility into their policy data and claims histories.

AXA, on the other hand, launched an insurtech competition in 2016, in collaboration with venture capital firm Jerusalem Venture Partners. Last year, the firm announced that it was doubling its original investment amount to $2 million, which went to the two winning startups.

The next great insurtech idea

In November, Prudential selected three fintech startups, Kyckr, Moxtra, and Sqreem, from a shortlist of six finalists.
Kyckr develops compliance solutions, while Moxtra helps organisations to enhance productivity and collaboration. Sqreem, on the other hand, creates pattern recognition solutions that allow organisations to identify links and associations among digital activities. The latter two were also winners at the Global Fintech Hackcelerator programme.

And to tap on an international pool of talent, PRU Fintegrate continues to seek new partners overseas, according to Mathur. Along with the MAS, Prudential is hosting a networking night in London, where the company hopes to attract European startups to come innovate in Singapore, he explains.

As Prudential continues to harness these opportunities, it will lead to more innovation, a robust startup economy, and a better customer experience - meaning that at the end of the day, everyone benefits. “It’s not just for us,” Mathur concludes. “It's for the whole economy that we create an innovation hub here in Singapore.”

This article was produced in partnership with Prudential Singapore.