NTUC Income enters strategic partnership to scale innovation in digital insurance

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Singaporean ICMIF member NTUC Income (“Income”) has announced this month that it has joined forces with ZA Tech Global Limited (“ZA Tech”), a business entity for overseas technological exports formed by China’s first internet-based insurer, ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance Co. Limited (“ZhongAn”), to bring speed to Income’s digital innovation and product launches in Singapore.

As part of the collaboration, Income says it will harness ZhongAn’s deep technological know-how, experience and knowledge in collaborating with ecosystem partners to deliver a pipeline of innovative digital insurance products tailored for modern lifestyle needs. More specifically, the “Digital Insurance Core System”, ZhongAn’s key technology asset, will help Income improve its agility and cost-efficiency to introduce more bespoke and modularised products to customers. Empowered by ZhongAn, Income is expecting to see its technical capabilities get a boost to readily and seamlessly integrate with digital ecosystem partners.

For ZhongAn, its stated aim from the partnership is to leverage Income’s position as a top composite insurer in Singapore to test-bed and scale digital innovation in Singapore and regionally, using ZhongAn technology to support its overseas business development, to expedite the digitalisation of insurance industry in Southeast Asia.

 “ZhongAn has an impressive track record when it comes to insurtech that modularises insurance. Such tech capability enhances Income’s agility when developing insurance offerings to meet customers’ changing needs. We can now test-bed digital innovation via ZhongAn’s technology platform without causing potential operational burden to the business and this allows us to pivot away from products that get less traction with customers and scale those that resonate better with speed,” said Peter Tay, Income’s Chief Operating Officer (pictured right), who also heads the company’s Digital Transformation Office (DTO).

“Given that our impetus for innovation and digitalisation has always been customer-centricity, we are excited to tap ZhongAn’s insurtech to unlock new possibilities in which insurance can be designed and offered to address customer pain points. We believe that this partnership will enable Income to reach a segment of customers, who are typically less receptive to traditional insurance offerings and distribution channels. Recognising that digital disruptions have cultivated new consumer behaviour, we aim to be future-ready to meet the digital lifestyle needs of tomorrow by disrupting insurance today,” Tay added.

Wayne Xu, President of ZA International, said: “We are very pleased to announce this partnership with Income, a leading insurer in Singapore, which has transformed itself digitally with a slew of industry-first innovations. We believe that Income’s digital aspiration support our business ambition in Southeast Asia. Utilising our cutting-edge technology and experience in building an insurance ecosystem, we are confident that this cooperation will enable Income to take concrete actions and actualise plans to grow its digital footprint and capabilities. Coupled with Income’s market leadership, we are in a good place to optimise Income and Singapore’s unique positions to better meet the insurance needs of customers.”

Bill Song, Chief Executive Officer of ZA Tech (pictured left), added: “We have established a clear roadmap to boost our technology solutions business in overseas markets, while the partnership with Income marks another profound step to extend our business globally. Having identified huge potential for customised insurance products and high internet penetration in Singapore, we are excited to lend weight to reimagine insurance by fostering cooperation on ZhongAn’s technology platform.”

Pipeline of digital innovation to better meet customer needs

To start, the strategic partnership will be introducing a lifestyle insurance product tailored to the tourism sector in Singapore by the second quarter of 2019. The product aims to protect both residents and tourists in Singapore against contingent events when they visit specific tourist attractions.

The new product will leverage ZhongAn’s cloud-based insurtech solution, which will enable Income to process millions of insurance policies every day and create new offerings with greater efficiency and cost saving, in view of strong tourist traffic to Singapore. More details on this unique offering will be shared in the coming months.

Additionally, Income is exploring potential collaborations with digital ecosystem partners to create new customer experiences through value-added services to better serve customers.

Income addresses consumer pain points by reimagining insurance

The collaboration with ZATech is part of Income’s digital transformation strategy to drive greater innovation and speed to market. The DTO was set up in 2016 to hot-house digitalisation and innovation at Income. In 2018, Income was named first in Singapore, ahead of 24 other insurers, in the country’s inaugural benchmark that measures the effectiveness of insurers’ innovation and digitalisation using metrics that cover online, social and innovation.