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Technology

Vietnamese online retailer Tiki adds insurance in fintech push

Local startup aims to gain ground on rivals Shopee and Lazada

HO CHI MINH CITY -- Vietnam's Tiki will add AIA insurance to its e-commerce site's offerings, marking a further push into financial services aimed at grabbing market share from bigger rivals Shopee and Lazada.

Vietnamese customers will be able to buy health and life insurance first, part of a long-term strategy to meet more of online shoppers' "financial needs," a Tiki representative told Nikkei Asia on Tuesday. The startup said it will personalize services for individual customers, such as recommending particular insurance packages, and will expand into other financial products like savings plans.

The announcement comes as startups across Southeast Asia continue to branch out into financial technology to build customer loyalty, as seen in the digital bank licenses obtained by Grab in Singapore and a GoTo affiliate in Indonesia.

In Tiki's case, experts say insurance sales will rise if the company can apply its technological advantage and analyze Vietnamese shopper demographics accurately.

"Keep in mind, Tiki has a huge database of users, and they know who is spending on which products," Dr. Huy Pham, coordinator at RMIT University Vietnam's FinTech-Crypto Hub, told Nikkei Asia.

Tiki, which also issues a credit card through Sacombank, is the biggest local online retailer in Vietnam. However, it trails Sea's Shopee, which leads among web and iPhone-based shoppers, and Alibaba's Lazada, which has the most Android app downloads, according to iPrice. Reports that Tiki would merge with Sen Do to form a larger Vietnamese challenger have yet to materialize.

Tran Ngoc Thai Son, founder and CEO of Tiki, said insurance should be available "hassle-free online" and is a social good.

"Partnering with a global leader like AIA allows us to embrace that vision by creating personalized life and health insurance solutions for everyone, every need and every circumstance in a seamless, digital-first experience on our platform," he said in a joint statement on Monday with Hong Kong-based AIA, which bills itself as Asia's biggest listed life insurer.

The two companies struck a 10-year deal meant to expand into other businesses in the internet economy, such as digital health services, the statement said.

Tiki's investors include China's JD.com and Vietnamese unicorn VNG.

"For the first time, we will offer bite-size protection and lifestyle-related products on the Tiki platform," AIA Vietnam CEO Wayne Besant said.

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