CareVoice, China’s TripAdvisor-style health insurance start-up, launches in Hong Kong as it eyes Asian expansion

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 September, 2018, 3:38pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 September, 2018, 11:04pm

A start-up that was the first to allow people in China to review and rate hospitals, clinics and doctors – a medical equivalent of TripAdvisor – launched its services in Hong Kong on Thursday.

Shanghai-based CareVoice, which now provides a range of digital services in the insurance technology sector, sees the move as the first stage of a broader Asian expansion plan.

The company started in 2014 as a mobile app for people to review and evaluate health-care services before moving into “insurtech”. Now it also provides tailored software for partnered insurance companies to allow their customers to digitally find services, make insurance claims and track their health.

Its Hong Kong launch marks the first step in a wider Asian expansion and comes after several months of preparation, according to Sebastien Gaudin, chief executive officer and co-founder of CareVoice. In the latter half of 2019 they plan to expand into Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.

“Hong Kong is exciting as it is outside the Chinese mainland, but also it is a mature health insurance market,” said Gaudin. “If we can succeed in Hong Kong, we can succeed in any other major market.”

In mainland China, CareVoice’s five major insurance clients include Chubb, AXA Tianping Partners and Ping An Insurance, with a third of its half a million users coming from insurance contracts.

In Hong Kong, the company has secured two “leading insurer clients” to be contracted before the end of 2019. Five others are at an advanced stage of negotiations, through a partnership with service provider Inter-Partner Assistance, said Gaudin, without disclosing who they are.

“For now we really want a great presence in Greater China,” said Gaudin. The aim is to reach 2 million customers in that region by 2019, with Hong Kong expected to contribute up to a fifth of sales within the next 12 to 18 months.

China, the world’s third largest insurance market, will remain CareVoice’s research and development hub.

Ping An Insurance aims to take its financial, health-care technologies into new Asian markets

The start-up counts China’s second largest insurer, PingAn, which itself has been aggressively expanding into the insurtech sector, as both a strategic partner and a client. In June CareVoice joined PingAn’s fintech accelerator, while Ping An Health was already a client.

The company is also exploring working with ZhongAn, China’s largest insurer, to provide them with advanced technologies they do not currently have, said Gaudin.

This all comes as spending in China’s health care sector is projected to grow from US$357 billion in 2011 to US$1 trillion in 2020, according to McKinsey.

CareVoice currently has US$3.2 million in funding from China-based Haitao Capital; one of the world’s largest seed investors, US-based SOSV; Australia-based Artesian Capital, and private investors.

“The solid trend for privatisation of health care and booming of private medical insurance has been a solid driver for our successful pivot into insurtech,” said Gaudin. “Looking ahead this trend can only accelerate further with the opportunities to continuously upgrade our platform and solutions, and bring these innovations from China mainland to overseas markets.”