Start-up Singapore Life Philippines Inc. (Singlife PH) has pushed back the launch of its mostly digital insurance offerings by June or July, no thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rien Hermands, Singlife PH president and chief executive, said the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) enforced as a weapon to stop the spread of SAR Cov2, the virus that causes COVID-19, “took us by surprise and forced us to revisit our plan.”

“The main reason was the readiness of our partner, who, as you know, experienced a huge inflow of business due to the ECQ and had to put priority on the operations and core system upgrades,” Hermans told Inquirer.

Hermans was referring to the joint venture between fintech insurer Singapore Life Private Ltd. and conglomerate Aboitiz Equity Ventures (AEV) to form the local subsidiary in which Singlife’s partners Di-Firm owned 20 percent and AEV, 15 percent.

“Another issue is the reduced activities due to the reduction of resources to a skeleton workforce in government agencies and, in particular, the Insurance Commission (IC),” Hermans said.

“We have meetings scheduled to get product licenses as soon as possible after the IC is fully operational again,” Hermans added.

“Singlife has been working reasonably well with a good implementation of work-from-home, as we mainly focused on building these systems and processes for our products,” Hermans said.

“In short, we will be better-prepared and will find a market that is more open to insurance and to digital once the ECQ is lifted,” according to Hermans.

Singlife PH earlier invested P1.2 billion to set up shop in the Philippines, among the first few markets where its parent-firm expanded in Southeast Asia.

Since it was a startup, Singlife PH will offer products and services in the digital space.

Given its digital platform, Singlife PH would not hire agents, “although we do foresee to work together with retail brokers in the future,” Hermans said in 2019.

Edited by TSB


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