Celebrations are on at Souqalmal.com, and for good reason. The company got the green light from the Central Bank of Bahrain to launch its flagship insurance comparison services in the country.
The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) and Bahrain Economic Development Board (Bahrain EDB) have made sweeping regulatory and economic changes to support the introduction of insurance aggregators in Bahrain.
The ball was set rolling this April when CBB issued draft rules enabling the launch of insurance aggregators in the country. Just two months into the new regulatory environment, Souqalmal.com has been granted an e-broker license to operate an insurance comparison website in Bahrain.
According to Founder and CEO, Ambareen Musa:
“Bahrain ranks 3rd globally in Internet penetration and 10th globally in mobile penetration. Boasting one of the highest online and mobile penetration rates in the world, and a rapidly transforming digital landscape, Bahrain was the ideal market for us to expand into.”
“We pride ourselves on bringing an unmatched level of transparency in the insurance marketplace and transforming the way UAE residents buy insurance. Our aim is to bring the same set of technologies and efficiencies to the Bahrain insurance sector. Bahrain’s increasingly tech-savvy residents can save considerable time and effort with Souqalmal.com’s online insurance comparison tools, instant quotes and expedited insurance purchase process.”
With its best-in-class online insurance comparison capabilities, Souqalmal.com aims to put users in the driver’s seat and equip them to choose the right insurance product that’s best suited to their own budget and requirements. And that’s exactly the model it intends to replicate in Bahrain.
Bahrain is the perfect fit in Souqalmal.com’s expansion strategy. The insurance industry in Bahrain and the region as a whole is ripe for technological disruption. InsurTech has taken center stage in Bahrain with the country’s regulatory ecosystem firmly supporting InsurTech-led disruption of the insurance sector.
Dalal Buhejji, Senior Manager, Business Development – Financial Services of the Bahrain Economic Development Board noted: “Bahrain has undoubtedly made significant progress in its regulatory reforms and we are now reaping the benefits. We are delighted to welcome Souqalmal and we look forward to the transformation it will bring to the Insurance sector. Their expansion to the Kingdom is a clear indication of the opportunities available for companies with innovative digital solutions.”
There’s a rising demand for digital insurance services in Bahrain, which can drastically improve customer experience, improve service delivery and lower transaction processing times. Bahrain FinTech Bay’s Insurance Digitalization Report 2019 underlines significant scope for digitalization in Bahrain’s insurance sector. Currently, insurance penetration in the country stands at just 2.27 percent. An increase in consumer awareness, coupled with the introduction of effective digital distribution channels, can help drive growth in the sector.
Findings from the report highlight the current lack of readily accessible consumer-relevant information in the local insurance market. The report shows that nearly 45 percent of the surveyed insurers in Bahrain do not provide detailed product descriptions of insurance products online, while 34 percent do not provide any online product informational at all.
Bringing one of its core strengths – Its financial literacy initiative – to Bahrain, Souqalmal.com aims to fill this gap. By simplifying the financial fine print for the average consumer in Bahrain, the company wants to help residents make informed decisions about insurance. Financial education has been a long-standing goal for the Souqalmal team. The team runs one of the most popular financial awareness blogs in the UAE and KSA.
Khalid Saad, CEO of Bahrain FinTech Bay said, “We are delighted that one of the region’s leading FinTechs is establishing a base in Bahrain and calling Bahrain FinTech Bay home. The insurance industry in Bahrain will undergo a fundamental transformation over the next few years and I am confident that Souqalmal will play a key role in that transformation and the provision of digital insurance services in Bahrain.”
Credited with being the first-ever personal finance comparison website in the UAE launching operations in 2012, Souqalmal.com has now become the fastest-growing insurance aggregator in the UAE. Today, the company offers the widest selection of insurance coverage to its users, ranging from car, travel, home and health insurance to more niche products like yacht and fleet insurance.
Souqalmal.com CEO Ambareen Musa has been an active advocate of tech-led disruption in the insurance industry. Most recently, Musa was invited to speak on InsurTech-related regulatory changes at the InsurByte 2019 conference in Bahrain.
Regional expansion was always on the cards for Souqalmal.com, especially after the company made big news last year when it raised USD 10 million in its Series B round of funding. Its high-profile mix of regional and global investors included Saudi Arabia-based Riyad TAQNIA Fund (RTF), UK’s leading comparison website GoCompare, and the UAE’s homegrown global remittance and foreign exchange brand UAE Exchange.
“After successfully launching our insurance aggregator business in the UAE, and growing it to become the country’s most trusted insurance comparison portal, we wanted to replicate this success in other markets. There’s immense growth potential for FinTech, and specifically InsurTech businesses in Bahrain. With an incredibly supportive ecosystem of regulators, launch pads and accelerators, we were able to set up the business without a hitch.”
As the company prepares to enter its eighth year of operation, the new business launch in Bahrain is all set to pave the way for further geographic expansion in the GCC and beyond.