Saphron, a Philippines-based insurance technology company, has secured SGD1.35 million (US$1 million) in seed funding from Sage, a VC fund that targets fintech startups, and Talino Labs, a venture lab that supports companies engaged in digital transformation.

As per a press note, Saphron, which is incorporated in Singapore, aims to make viable financial protection and assistance accessible by helping clients to develop technologies that transform consumer experiences.

Talino Labs Venture Director Micaela Beltran, said: “There are still large parts of the Southeast Asian population that are unprepared financially — be it in terms of savings or insurance. Filling this ‘protection and financial gap’ will help the ASEAN achieve its goals for financial inclusion and mobility, as both finance and insurance play complementary roles in national and regional economies.”

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“There is a lot of growth potential in Southeast Asia, but for industries to leapfrog and become even more relevant to today’s consumers, it’s important to combine the latest technology with in-depth industry expertise. We are excited to have Saphron launch transformative platforms that solve real needs, by way of intelligent, cutting-edge tech in partnership with established companies in the region,” she added.

Insurance penetration in the ASEAN is just at 3.4 per cent of GDP versus the global average of 6.3 per cent. This gap means that millions of families still do not have any form of protection or financial assistance, leaving them vulnerable against life and health risks as well as natural disasters pervasive in different countries in the region.

According to one of the world’s leading reinsurers, Swiss Re, families in the ASEAN “bear 35 per cent to 75 per cent of their total medical expenses” with the exception of Brunei (6 per cent) and Thailand (12 per cent), versus families in Japan, the UK, or the US, which bear only 11 to 15 per cent of their total medical expenses.

“There is a serious need to make insurance radically accessible around the region by helping address the risks that set back millions of vulnerable families and drive them further into debt,” said Saphron Founder and CTO Francisco “Kiko” Reyes, Jr. “We built Saphron to help companies drive financial inclusion and change the current reality in the region, by using robust technology to bring to the market financial protection and assistance that’s accessible, ultra-convenient, easy to purchase, and simple to claim.”

According to Reyes, the company’s dream is to create a digital experience for the end users, from searching for a suitable cover, to convenience in payments, to simplicity in claims processing. The platform will be optimised with Artificial Intelligence and real-time data analytics for underwriting and customer service.

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“It will have a multi-platform payment gateway that can accept payments from mobile payment platforms, which is now the payment method of choice in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. And we will build a blockchain-based know your consumer system with biometric identity verification for secure payments processing,” Reyes added.