Media »Speech at Promoting Microinsurance Seminar in Myanmar
September 9, 2019
U Thant Zin, Director, Financial Regulatory Department, Ministry of Planning and Finance
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Insurance traditionally was not a very exciting business in Myanmar—many people and businesses who purchased insurance were required to buy insurance coverage, like marine insurance or auto insurance.
Our insurance market in Myanmar until very recently has been offered only very standard coverages and very basic products.
Also, our market has not been very dynamic or innovative. Of course, I am the Managing Director of the largest insurance company, and traditionally, we have focused on a very basic set of products, without spending much time developing new products.
The regulations governing our industry have not actually promoted much innovation—and not very much competition. In fact, we don’t compete with different products and we don’t compete on price. We think that this situation needs to change.
I am very happy to see that things are, in fact, beginning to change. There is a new, more open attitude to this very conservative and traditional industry. The MOPF has moved to open the market by inviting in several foreign insurers. This was a very positive step.
In addition, the new Insurance Business Law that is still being debated is long overdue and will bring our legal foundation for insurance up to international standard.
I think the fundamental challenge for our industry is learning how to focus on the real needs of our market. In the past, we have been very “product driven”; we created very basic insurance products that were really standard products that had been in use in other countries. In some cases, these products were appropriate for our market (marine and auto insurance), but in other cases, this standardized “product approach” to marketing insurance never really addressed the kind of insurance coverage people actually might need and want.
Most of Myanmar’s people fall into the “low income” category. In the past, we would not have considered them an attractive market segment. Now that we are learning about microinsurance, and new digitally based products, and delivery models, we can see that there is a huge, completely untapped market for microinsurance.
It is very important going forward that we develop microinsurance, as these products will benefit the majority of our people. We can use these new business models and digital approaches to serve low income people and help them insure themselves against risks in ways that we never before even imagined. We owe it to our fellow citizens to try and develop these new fintech approaches to microinsurance here in Myanmar.
We are particularly delighted today to be working ourselves with Stonestep, an international “insurtech” firm that is supported by the DaNa Facility to experiment with new products and delivery channels for microinsurance.
I pledge that Myanma Insurance will dedicate itself to creating microinsurance products that are appropriate for low income people in Myanmar. We fully support MOPF and FRD to reform and update our legal and regulatory system to promote more innovation and outreach.