The micro-insurance (Boost Protect) product has helped Malaysians deal with pandemic-related financial pressures.
The income disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on many individuals and micro-enterprises in Malaysia. Job losses and business closures have brought to light the importance of financial literacy and how it contributes to resilience during a crisis. Customarily, a three-month cash buffer is necessary to support a family or an enterprise when an emergency occurs.
In such uncertain times and in a country with a large number of uninsured residents, Axiata Digital eCode Sdn. Bhd. (Boost e-Wallet) has a major role to play. The homegrown e-wallet assists Malaysians by adding micro-insurance/takaful offerings, marking its foray into digital financial services beyond just digital payments. In August 2020, the company launched the in-app “Insurance” feature when it kicked off ‘Boost Protect’, a comprehensive range of eight micro-insurance/takaful plans. These plans include a daily cash allowance in case of hospitalisation, protection for credit card and utility bills, protection for fitness- and sports-related accidents, and even coverage for smartphone screen damage. For this innovative idea, Boost has won the 2021 Malaysian Technology Excellence Award in the FinTech - Financial Services category.
A value-added benefit of Boost’s insurance coverage is the COVID-19 Assist, a financial assistance program for those who are infected with the virus. This program gives insurance/takaful holders a daily hospitalisation allowance of RM200 upon diagnosis up to 60 days. In case of death, the account holder’s family receives assistance worth RM20,000. These benefits are meaningful in a society where more than 50% of the population had no life insurance as of September 2020, according to the Life Insurance Association of Malaysia. Amongst people who have some form of insurance, more than 90% have insufficient coverage for themselves and their families. Only 4% of low-income persons have a certain form of insurance coverage.
Thus, companies like Boost are disrupting traditional insurance sales with targeted sachet insurance products to better suit a digital- and mobile-first lifestyle. This presents a huge opportunity to provide protection for health concerns and income disruptions that is very affordable and accessible to Malaysians.
Boost’s success in expanding into digital financial services is partly due to its data-driven approach. On top of micro-insurance, Boost leverages daily business transaction data to create an alternative form of credit scoring for underserved merchants. The data is used to determine who is qualified to obtain microfinancing support from its sister company, Aspirasi. This is extremely beneficial for the smaller businesses who need financial buffers to ensure cash flow or have productive capital for digitalisation, especially during uncertain times.
Further, Boost also brought a digital solution addressing cash-related pain points, of paying for street parking. Its street parking feature allows users to easily pay for parking in less than 1 minute. Users first register their vehicle license plate which is automatically saved in-app conveniently for future use. The user then chooses the parking location and selects the desired parking duration. The app also sends a notification to users 10 minutes before the parking duration expires, with the option to extend the duration. This feature synchronizes in real-time with local authorities which make it easy for enforcement officers to quickly check if a car owner has paid their parking fee.
Launched in July 2018, the feature started with a collaboration between Kuala Lumpur City Council (DBKL) to cover over 40 locations in the nation’s capital. Since then, the feature coverage expanded to Kelantan (Kota Bharu & Machang) and most recently, Subang Jaya adding another 60 areas to the list. For this, it has also bagged the Malaysian Technology Excellence Award in the FinTech - Payments category.
Moving forward, Boost is committed to offer crucial support to the country’s digital economy pursuit and ambitions. They plan do it primarily in two ways – building innovative and meaningful features and solutions, as well as increase collaboration with digital providers. This will not only allow Boost to constantly disrupt the payments and financial services status quo, but also evolve conventional practices across all industries. Furthermore, the homegrown e-wallet will continue to enhance the functionality of its omni-channel e-wallet platform as a digitally and financially inclusive essential toolkit for Malaysians.
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