Insurtech hub in the works to help industry integrate
The Office of Insurance Commission (OIC) will set up the Insurtech Centre of Thailand (ICT) over the next two months for data collection, technological exchange and insurance product development.
The ICT will also be a hub to integrate insurance firms and tech startups to drive the domestic insurance industry forward, secretary-general Suthiphon Thaveechaiyagarn said during a seminar entitled "CEO Insurance Forum 2018".
The OIC will be the organisation administering the ICT, Mr Suthiphon said.
The ICT will be tasked with four objectives, including encouraging research and exchange of knowledge on insurance technology and promoting the development of insurance technology, together with promoting the development of regulatory technology (regtech) for the insurance industry.
Another two objectives are supporting accessibility and reachability of insurance knowledge among the public via insurance technology, and brainstorming ideas among the regulator and insurtech startups in order to facilitate innovation and protect insurance interest among consumers.
"There is currently no host of insurtech in Thailand, therefore the OIC will be the host and provide a platform for [startups] to develop the new insurtech," Mr Suthiphon said. "The commission will also determine whether such insurance innovation will pass the insurance regulatory sandbox or not."
He said there are five pilot projects in the sandbox at the moment.
The OIC also supports mergers and acquisitions in the insurance industry under the market mechanism framework, as opposed to intervention or setting up regulations to encourage M&A deals.
"The OIC will conduct supervision only as needed," Mr Suthiphon said. "We have a clear direction that insurance businesses must implement technology, but we will not direct them to merge and impose regulatory requirements, as regulations should be flexible and sufficiently nimble to serve business operations."
At present, the Life and Non-Life Insurance Act is under amendment. The act is arranged into three sections related to consumer protection, business stability and M&A, Mr Suthiphon said.
The OIC's mission for this year is aimed at raising insurance supervision standards to bring them in line with international practice.
There are 10 strategies under the plan: complying with international supervision under the Financial Sector Assessment Programme; enhancing business involvement; ensuring corporate governance; promoting insurance penetration to the public; raising insurance protection for consumers; ensuring that regulations are supportive towards business operations; improving human resources capability; keeping up with technological innovations; adopting technology for regulatory supervision; and maximising cybersecurity safety.