2017-11-03 10:58:19

Tencent’s messaging app has launched a new platform for commercial insurers, the latest effort by the internet giant to secure a slice of China’s growing online insurance market.

The insurance platform, known as WeSure, debuted on Tencent’s ubiquitous messaging app WeChat on Thursday, the company said in a statement. Unlike other online insurers that provide a wide range of products, WeSure will tap into user data to select two to three products from a variety of different types of insurance for individual users, according to the statement.

The service, still in its beta phase, is only available to 1 percent of WeChat’s nearly 1 billion users, and a medical insurance policy provided by Taikang Online, a subsidiary of Taikang Life Insurance, is the only product listed on the platform.

China’s nascent online insurance market has become a new battleground for internet giants Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, and others. The so-called insuretech market — in which insurers utilize technology such as big data and artificial intelligence to better target customers online — grew to 363 billion yuan in 2016 and is expected to exceed 1.41 trillion yuan by 2021, according to global consulting firm Oliver Wyman.

In October, Weimin Insurance Agency, in which Tencent holds a 57.8 percent controlling stake, received a license from China’s insurance regulator to sell products on WeChat and Tencent’s other instant messaging app, QQ.

ZhongAn Online Property and Casualty Insurance, China’s first online-only insurer, in September raised $1.5 billion in Hong Kong’s biggest-ever stock offering for a fintech company. The insurer is backed by Tencent, Alibaba boss Jack Ma’s Ant Financial, and Ping An Insurance — one of the country’s largest insurers.

Alipay, a popular payment app operated by Ant Financial and a competitor to WeChat’s own digital wallet feature, has also been aggressively beefing up its presence in online insurance sales. The app started partnering with insurers to sell policies in 2013, and the products available on its platform include health, property, and car policies.

Editor: David Paulk.

(Header image: Passengers use their mobile phones on the subway in Beijing, April 15, 2012. Zhang Jusheng/VCG)