Michele Grosso, Co-Founder & CEO of Democrance, at his office in Dubai. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: When used right, fintech solutions could offer the easiest way to offer products and services to low-income groups. More so when it comes to delivering insurance-specific solutions.

In the UAE, there are many “insurtech” start-ups that aggregate insurance premium quotes for customers. One company — Democrance — aims to create some disruption by digitising the entire insurance value chain and unlock new customer segments.

The platform allows insurance companies to reduce the distribution and operational costs and offer affordable pricing to low-income individuals who do not have a life insurance, personal accident cover or even a bank account.

Usually, to get life insurance, a customer needs to sign almost 200 pages with the assistance of brokers. Agents and traditional channels cannot reach vast amounts of the population.

“In the Middle East and North Africa, less than 20 per cent of the population has a bank account and only 1 per cent can access and afford micro-insurance,” said Michele Grosso, co-founder and CEO of Democrance.

In the Middle East and North Africa, less than 20 per cent of the population has a bank account and only 1% can afford micro-insurance.

- Michele Grosso, CEO of Democrance

The mobile phone thus holds the key and low-income groups can use these devices to pay to be insured. “We have partnerships with telecom operators and remittance houses in the region as they have a mass consumer base and loyalty,” he said.

Democrance digitises the back-end process of insurance companies, from issuing a policy to collecting a payment.

Democrance has tied up with American International Group in MEA (AIG MEA) to digitise its operations in the UAE and some of its other regional operations. “We are expanding to Southeast Asia by opening in Cambodia by working with an insurance company and a telecom operator,” he said.

When asked about profitability, he said Democrance started making revenues in late 2017 but is not yet profitable. “We expect to reach critical mass in the near future. We have raised $1.3 million, with $800 million in funding from big investors and more than half a million as a grant from UN agency called IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) to offer insurance for workers through remittance houses.”

In 2017, the start-up raised $800,000 from Jabbar internet Group and London-based insurtech venture capital investors Eos Venture Partners. Grosso said the business is not in any urgent need for more funds.

Profile

Having worked for some leading insurance companies in France, Egypt and the UAE for 12 years, Michele Grosso quit the corporate world and started Democrance. He holds a Masters in Management/Grande Ecole from ESCP Europe in Paris and MSc in Economics from Turin University. He is also a graduate from Carlos III University in Madrid and City University in London.