Mainland China-based insurtech company 17doubao has begun working with insurance agents tied to international carriers such as AIA, Prudential and Manulife in Hong Kong and Singapore.
The company is using the name EasiTech for its ex-mainland businesses. Wendy Zhang joined the firm in 2019 to spearhead its drive into new markets. It opened last year in Hong Kong and in Singapore this year.
It is piloting engagement tools with AIA and Manulife agent networks, and also working with Prudential Corporation Asia itself to boost the effectiveness of its agents.
Out of mainland China
The company got its start in mainland China helping insurance brokers digitize with a software-as-a-service offering for marketing and operations. Zhang says the company has over 200 brokers using its software in mainland China, from which it has branched out to serving agents, carriers, and related businesses such as health clinics.
Its experience has been in life and group insurance, working with the likes of China Life Insurance and Taikang Pension.
In Hong Kong, Zhang is targeting the largest brokers, those with revenues above HK$10 million ($1.3 million). EasiTech has struck a partnership with AMTD Group, which has a property and casualty insurance broker.
This is more than just a client relationship. Zhang says EasiTech has limited experience with the P&C side of the industry, but it has realized P&C is a vast business worldwide. It is therefore using the work with AMTD to cut its teeth in this space.
Hong Kong is a bridge to the WestWendy Zhang, EasiTech
Secondly, it may want to work with AMTD’s investment banking side later to help it raise funds, should EasiTech seek a public listing or other route to capital markets.
“Hong Kong is a bridge to the West,” Zhang said, explaining the insurtech’s decision to open doors there. “It has a lot of global institutions operating here.”
Helping agents acquire
In the meantime, though, Zhang has been building early business deals with insurance companies, with either the SaaS offering or a mobile app for agents to acquire customers.
With COVID-19, this is the opportunity to train agents how to use digital content to engage customers, to use tools to figure out which leads are worth chasing, and to receive guidance on how to close deals and garner referrals.
“Hong Kong agents still prefer doing business face to face, over yum cha,” Zhang said. “But with COVID, they can’t.”
Digital is especially urgent to Hong Kong agents who have depended on mainland customers to buy large life- and wealth policies during visits to the city. COVID-19 as well as tightening regulation from Beijing has put that lucrative business on ice.
At the same time, agents in Hong Kong may yet benefit from new ways to service and access mainland clients through still-unrealized policies from the Greater Bay Area agenda.
We’re holding agents’ hands as they walk into the industryWendy Zhang, EasiTech
Both of these developments make it important for agents in Hong Kong to use digital tools to remain engaged with mainland clients, even if right now there’s no actual business, says Zhang. For agents in Singapore, the opportunity is different: to target similar customers, now that they are not necessarily going to travel to Hong Kong to purchase policies.
In the case of AIA in Hong Kong and Manulife in Singapore, EasiTech is working directly with some insurance agent networks. Its modules of software services provide help with feeding agents content on topics such as education, medical travel, immigration, and investments, plus tips on how to engage potential customers.
In the case of Prudential, Zhang says she is working with its distribution executives to tailor tools for its mobile app. Prudential is recruiting a lot of agents, and these new joiners don’t have an easy way to reach prospects. EasiTech is helping the insurer disseminate content to these recruits, manage sales processes, and track enquiries.
“We can trace who reads the content they send to prospects, find out who the customer is, and know what product to send to them,” she said. “We’re holding the agents’ hands as they walk into the industry.”
Prudential spokespeople did not respond to requests for comment.