This insurance startup came out of nowhere to raise $50m series A

By Michael Tegos for Tech in Asia

Insurtech firm Singapore Life announced today it has raised a blockbuster US$50 million for its series A round.

Investors include Impact Capital Holdings, a subsidiary of Credit China Fintech Holdings. CCFH is a Hong Kong-listed group “with a focus on providing 24/7 online financial services to SMEs, merchants, and individuals in China and Asia through internet and mobile solutions.”

According to a filing with the Hong Kong securities and futures exchange, Impact Capital will hold 33.8 percent of shares issued by Singapore Life, for an investment of US$21.3 million. The investment is expected to be completed by or after end of June 2017, pending approval by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and agreement from all the parties involved.

UK-based investor IPGL also participated.

The investment is one of the largest series A fundraises in Singapore and Southeast Asia in recent years. According to the Tech in Asia database, the median size for disclosed series A deals in 2016 was around US$3 million. Examples of other sizeable series A investments in Singapore include big data startup Antuit’s US$56 million fundraise and ecommerce website Qoo10’s US$82 million round in 2015.

If you’re wondering what Singapore Life is, you’re not alone.

The private company claims to “provide state-of-the-art, long-term life and savings solutions for customers that value simplicity, safety, and security.” Its website doesn’t offer much information about its products or how it’s using technology to achieve its goals, even though the firm was founded in 2014.

A spokesperson says more details will be “shared later,” after approval from local authorities. According to the HKEX report, Singapore Life has applied to MAS for a direct life insurance license.

Hands on the wheel

The only insight into the company is its founder and CEO, Walter de Oude. An experienced actuary, he worked for HSBC Insurance for seven years, spending four of those as CEO. He claims to have tripled the company’s market share in Singapore during that time.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Walter believes “a new age for insurance is dawning. The life insurance market of the future will be one of significantly greater efficiency and customer empowerment than what exists today.”

“Credit China FinTech and IPGL bring the best of technology-led business success in support of Singapore Life’s long term strategy,” he says in a statement. “Having the support of these strong international shareholders attests to the strong confidence in Singapore Life’s strategy, and in Singapore as a financial center and a destination for global investment.”

Insurance is the next big opportunity in fintech for many startups. Young companies like PolicyPal and Insurance Market are helping with insurance product discovery, purchase, and management with the blessings of MAS. Other companies, like Biofourmis, are exploring data analytics solutions to enable more flexible and customizable insurance products.

Established insurance companies are getting on board as well. Providers like AIA, MetLife, and NTUC Income all have accelerator programs or innovation centers in Singapore, inviting startups to develop new products and services.