FINANCIAL TECHNOLOGY | Clarist Zablan, Singapore

How GoBear expanded beyond financial comparison

It plans to enter partnerships to develop bespoke insurance solutions.

Singapore-based fintech GoBear started out as a meta search engine where users can compare and select insurance plans and financial products. Four years later, the fintech has helped at least 40 million users search for over 1,800 personal finance products and the company is taking this one step further as it delves directly into developing actual products.

“Choosing financial products used to be complicated and dull. We didn’t think that it was fair, and wanted comparing these products to be simple and easy,” GoBear CEO Adrian Chng told Asian Banking & Finance.

Founded in 2015, GoBear has since expanded the scope of services it compares on its platform to credit cards, loans, banking products and financial products, and even expanded to several markets across Asia-Pacific, including Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

The firm receives an undisclosed token sum from its partners when a successful purchase is made and when GoBear directs consumers to the providers’ webpage, depending on the agreement established with their partners.

Beyond financial comparison, the firm caters to business by providing its partners with access to analytics. Chng cited an instance with a travel insurance firm in Thailand which commissioned their data team to analyse preferences amongst their Thai users on destination, price, coverage and the like. This allowed the insurer to grow its digital sales as well as their digital market share in travel insurance.

In October 2018, GoBear entered a partnership with digital scorecard developer CredoLab to roll out Easy Apply, a mobile app designed to provide credit access to the underbanked in Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Powered by CredoLab’s proprietary technology, the app collects and assesses anonymised data from mobile phones to develop an alternative credit scoring for loan and credit card applications.

Easy Apply leverages on CredoLab’s technology to peruse information on incoming and outgoing phone calls, SMS and e-mail messages, internet browser use and geographical position of the mobile device, list of applications installed on the mobile device and the calendar data.

“[It] enables banks, financial institutions and lenders to extend credit to a larger pool of customers while keeping risks in check,” Chng said.

He also observed that, although Easy Apply allows online and offline applications for credit products, about 40% of Vietnamese users have applied for the service online in “a powerful sign that users in Vietnam are open to digital financial services.”

The company has also been hosting initiatives across markets to improve financial literacy. In Singapore, they have been producing GoBearTV, a series of videos explaining financial concepts in a conversational tone. So far, they have discussed about travel insurance, credit scores, credit cards and home loan tricks.

GoBear is still seeking out technology partners, especially in customer onboarding and fulfilment solutions, personal finance management, alternative credit scoring, financial education, and investment platforms. In Q4, they are planning to announce partnerships to develop bespoke insurance products catering to the underserved.

“We will partner traditional players, re-insurers and also outside industry partners to evolve from a metasearch, to a marketplace (supermarket), and eventually a financial services platform,” Chng said.

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