Baidu has teamed up with Allianz, the European financial services company, in a bid to launch an online insurance service in China. The joint venture will also include Hillhouse capital, according to a report by the Financial Times.
Online insurance in China is growing rapidly. Statistics from the Insurance Association of China show that in the first half of 2015 revenues from Chinese insurance premiums sold online reached 82 billion RMB, a 206% increase on the same period in 2014.
Currently these sales account for just under 5% of the total industry, though a report from Ping An Securities released in April suggests that number could exceed 30% by 2019.
At present Allianz has a very limited presence in China, though a partnership with Baidu signals their intention to expand in Asia.
Last week Baidu revealed a partnership with China CITIC Bank to launch ‘Baixin Bank’, the company’s own online bank, following in the footsteps of fellow China tech giants Alibaba and Tencent.
The three companies, often dubbed ‘BAT’, have extended heavily into the finance sector in recent years. All three now have representation in P2P lending, online wallets, online banking, crowdfunding and now online insurance.
In 2013 Tencent and Alibaba formed their own online insurance seller in partnership with Ping An Insurance Group Co, with Alibaba currently holding the largest stake worth 16 percent. The venture, called Zhong An Online Property Insurance, raised 5.78 billion RMB in its first ever funding round this June (just over $930 million USD at the time).
Alibaba, which manages all finance services under their official finance arm Ant Financial, also revealed plans to invest 1.2 billion RMB ($188 million USD) for a 60% stake in Cathay Insurance Co., the China-based unit of Taiwan’s Cathay Financial Holdings Co. Alibaba also launched eBaoTech this year, the world’s first internet insurance cloud platform, according to the company.
The latest joint venture between Allianz and Baidu will target small-to-medium sized businesses as well as individual consumers.