InsurTech of the month: XinKaishi
In 2016, Allianz China launched XinKaishi, a fetal listener coupled with a full spectrum maternity app through which tailored health and life insurance propositions could be cross sold. The concept was distinctive for its hardware based market entry strategy combined with proprietary analytics targeting over 18 million expectant Chinese mothers annually.
The XinKaishi did boast some unique features. Connected via Bluetooth to an accompanying mobile app which delivered fetal heart parameters, personalised health data and maternity content to users based on proprietary analytics. Xinkaishi also included the ability for relatives and friends of expecting parents to contribute to an education fund for the child. This unit linked life insurance product was delivered through Xinkaishi’s WeChat account and enriched XinKaishu with a social element that was intended to further drive engagement post pregnancy.
However, despite unique functionality, the Xinkaishi fetal listener struggled to stand out against an ocean of cheap medical devices. Distribution through pharmacies also proved challenging as recent health scandals in China have pushed first time mothers to rely on personal recommendations rather than in-store maternal care promotions. Offline distribution through pharmacies and hospitals also had to compete with established western devices.
Ultimately, the case of Xinkaishi is a good example of an increasingly popular strategy for western insurers in China – compete under a Chinese brand name whilst targeting a narrow use case. However, this initiative also exemplifies the challenges of integrating medical devices with software and services. Although Xinkaishi tried to differentiate itself through a superior user experience that included noise cancelling doppler ultrasonography and proprietary algorithms, the realities of offline distribution and generic medical devices in China proved challenging. Nevertheless, Allianz’s willingness to step outside its core competency with a hardware/software offering demonstrated a boldness that may prove decisive as increased deregulation continues to spur western insurers’ to compete with local Chinese players.