Saphron Raises SGD 1.35 M to Tackle Financial Inclusion in the Philippinesby Tom Noda March 14, 2019
Manila-based insurtech startup Saphron has raised SGD1.35 million seed fund coming from fintech-focused VC fund Sage, and Talino Labs, a venture lab that supports companies engaged in digital transformation.
Founded recently by solutions architect Francisco “Kiko” Reyes Jr, Saphron plans to use the fresh capital to address the financial inclusion gap in the Philippines by making the delivery of insurance radically accessible. The startup aims to enable clients develop technologies that transform consumer experiences.
Sage and Talino Labs, in a joint statement, expressed optimism in Saphron’s capability “to launch transformative platforms that solve real needs, by way of intelligent, cutting edge tech in partnership with established companies in the region.”
Both venture firms cited that there are still large parts of the SEA population that are unprepared financially — be it in terms of savings or insurance. And while there is a lot of growth potential in the region, industries can leapfrog and become even more relevant to consumers by combining the latest technology with in-depth industry expertise.
“The financial services industry in the Philippines has undergone its share of disruption this past decade and is now poised for a transformation that will make savings, assistance, and protection products convenient and accessible to millions of Filipinos. Our investment in Saphron is proof of our commitment to make this happen,” said Sage and Talino Labs in a statement.
Reyes, who is also Saphron’s chief technology officer, stressed there is a serious need to make financial preparedness radically accessible, especially in a country exposed to numerous calamities like the Philippines, but where large segments of the population remain either uninsured or severely underinsured.
Reyes said his team aims to create a truly digital experience for its clients’ users, from searching for a suitable cover, to convenience in payments, to simplicity in claims processing.
“Our platform will be optimized with artificial intelligence and real-time data analytics for underwriting and customer service,” Reyes said. “It will have a multi-platform payment gateway that can accept payments from mobile payment platforms, which is now the payment method of choice in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. And we will build a blockchain-based know your customer (KYC) system with biometric identity verification for secure payments processing.”
Saphron currently assists the Pioneer group, a local commercial insurance firm that provides coverage for migrant workers and the low-income sector in the country.
Reyes said many Filipinos are still without protection and access to financial assistance when faced with accidents, hospitalization, climate-driven calamities, diseases, and other emergencies.
“Filipinos often think that securing protection is a sizeable expense, but in reality it costs more to be unprotected when emergencies occur. When a member of the family is in an emergency, it puts a strain on the entire family’s finances. In fact, a single episode alone is often enough to put households in debt for long periods,” he explained.
Saphron, referring to the October 2018 data from global insurance and reinsurance market Lloyd’s, noted the insurance penetration rate in the Philippines is at “less than one per cent,” similar to Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Egypt, and Nigeria.
Featured image credit: Saphron