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InsurTechs to watch: Wu Kong Bao and Baidu’s Apollo

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Following on from the main feature that looks at the effective establishment of parametric insurance and autonomous vehicles (AVs) into the psyche of the Chinese insurance market, we look at two startups that are making a name for themselves within these markets: Apollo and Wu Kong Bao.

Baidu is a Chinese multinational technology company that specialises in internet based products and services that exploit artificial intelligence. In April 2017, Baidu launched Apollo – named after the Apollo moon mission – an automotive software platform provided to partners in the automotive and autonomous driving industry. The company intends to provide an open, complete and secure software platform for its partners to integrate into their vehicles and hardware systems to enable rapid development of their own complete Autopilot system.

  • By February 2018, the first Apollo unmanned vehicle was exhibited at the 2018 CCTV Spring Festival Gala Guangdong Zhuhai Branch.
  • During the Spring Festival evening broadcast, more than 100 Apollo unmanned vehicles crossed the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge.
  • Baidu released version 2.5 on April 19 and released the Apollo Autopilot Open Platform on  November 7. In January 2019, Baidu announced that the official launch of the world’s first comprehensive smart driving commercialisation solution.
  • The open Apollo platform is a complete set of hardware, software and service systems, including vehicle platform, hardware platform, software platform, cloud data service, etc.
  • Beijing-based Baidu has now established relationships with 14 car manufacturers, including Chery, BYD and BAIC in China and international companies such as Daimler, Ford, Honda, Hyundai and Kia.

Wu Kong Bao is a Beijing based insurance broker that is seeking to disrupt property insurance. It carries products for life, auto and scenario-based insurance. It focuses on low-value products that are not viable for distribution via the agent network and which are sold online instead. It was founded in August 2015 by Chen Zhihua, a former vice president of JD Finance and previously an actuary in North America.

  • Wu Kong Bao received angel investment of 15 million yuan from Meihua Venture Capital, Qingshan Capital, and the founder Chen Zhihua.
  • In May 2016, it received pre-A round financing of 100 million yuan from a group led by Phoenix Xiangrui Capital. In Sept 2018, it won financing from the 58 Group and Guohua Life Insurance with the multiple of 10 million yuan in B round investment.
  • In 2017, Wu Kong Bao launched a life-critical illness product with Guohua Life Insurance. Within three days of the launch, it had generated RMB10 million in premiums.

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