The article was first published in Chinese on Momentum Works’ WeChat platform.
In October last year, Shopee’s Parent Sea Group secured permission from Indonesia’s Financial Services Authority (OJK) to rename a life insurance company it acquired.
The company, PT ASURANSI JIWA ADVISTA (‘jiwa’ means life), is now known as “PT ASURANSI JIWA SEAINSURE”.
And in the first half of 2022, there was strong speculation that Sea Group was also acquiring a general insurance company – Asuransi Mega Pratama. Mega Pratama was recently controlled by an entity linked to Andy Indigo, ShopeePay’s 49% shareholder in Indonesia, paving the way for a potential takeover by Sea Group.
In the Philippines, according to the country’s Insurance Commission, Sea Group, through Singapore registered SeaInsure Private Limited, has acquired two general insurance companies: AA Guaranty Assurance Co. Inc. (AAGA) and Reliance Surety and Insurance Co. Inc. (RSI).
AAGA, whose acquisition was completed last year, has been granted to rename to SeaInsure General Insurance Co. Inc. (SeaInsure Philippines). RSI is transferring its general insurance portfolio to SeaInsure while itself trying to secure a licence to operate as a life insurer.
SeaInsure Philippines currently lists only one product on its web site: Credit Protection. This is believed to be linked to SeaMoney’s consumer credit business which is growing rapidly in the philippines.
There are some great similarities between Indonesia and the Philippines: large population, high interest spread, lack of credit data, and low penetration of commercial insurance. Although traditional insurance companies, especially in Indonesia, are moving decisively towards digitalisation, Sea might expect something faster – whether it is selling insurance through Shopee platform, or operating its own digital insurance portfolio.
Also, as the funding cost is rising, securing stable, reliable and affordable funds through life insurance premiums might not be a bad choice after all.