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Interview: Gavin Li, CEO, Bihubao

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Gavin Li

This month we spoke with Gavin Li, CEO of Chinese insurtech Bihubao.

Q1) How has insurtech changed this year in your view?

This year has seen a maturity of the market and some clear winners have emerged. First, Shuidibao has entered the top 10 most valuable insurtechs globally, while others such as Hangzhou-based Tongdun have emerged as contenders to Palantir in analytics for claims and fraud detection. This year has also seen the growth of insurtechs that specialise in certain sectors of the industry such as marine and legal (credit guarantee insurance).

Q2) What trends do you think we are likely to see in 2020? 

First, I think insurtechs will go beyond just distribution and delve further into preventative healthcare such as blood pressure monitors, electrocardiogram (ECG) meters and blood/glucose meters.

Next, I think we will see Chinese insurtechs expand to SE Asia. Some of the online reciprocal models are already expanding to Malaysia and Indonesia whilst others have also started looking further afield.

Q3) Which do you think will have more impact on the insurance industry; artificial intelligence (AI) or blockchain?

In the immediate term, we have already seen AI impact customer service queries such policy renewal and coverage terms. In the long term, blockchain may be useful as a means to allow insurers to minimize fraud by collectively pooling customer data into a centralised database on a ledger. This will require regulatory support.

Q4) The Chinese Insurance and Banking Regulatory Commission has become more proactive in identifying breaches of regulations on the part of insurers, brokers and startups. How do you interpret this development?

Yes, it’s true that the newly merged banking and insurance regulator has become more stringent. However, I think this is actually a positive development because many insurance startups have been too eager to market their products or engage in negative practices such as nuisance telemarketing calls.

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