The Capital Market Authority has concluded the regional insurance technology competition and announced the winners in the two tracks of the competition. The winners were announced during a ceremony organized by the PCMA in collaboration with the German Cooperation for International Development (GIZ) and the Palestinian Insurance Federation. The competition included two tracks. The first track focused on new creative ideas in financial technology for insurance and was won by two teams from Tunisia and Cameroon, with a prize value of $5,000 for each. As for the second track, it was for established companies, and it was won by two companies from the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates, also receiving a prize of $5,000 each. The winning applications in the second track will be hosted by the companies “Al-Mashreq” and “Tamkeen.”
Dr. Nabil Kassis, the Chairman of the Board of the Capital Market Authority, emphasized that the competition during the year 2022 was part of the PCMA’s efforts to promote the use of financial technology, including insurance technology, in non-banking financial sectors. As part of the race to implement the PCMA’s five-year strategy 2021-2025, which has identified enhancing the use of financial technology and providing a conducive environment in non-banking financial sectors as one of its three main pillars.
He mentioned that the PCMA established the Directorate for Digital Financial Services and Innovation at the beginning of 2021, which developed a supervisory incubator platform called “Ebtaker” which is considered one of the pioneering supervisory incubators for the non-banking financial sector in the Arab region. This is aimed at facilitating the journey of entrepreneurs in innovation in the field of financial technology by enhancing and facilitating effective communication between the PCMA and innovative and entrepreneurial solution providers related to the non-banking financial sector.
He expanded that the platform “Ebtaker” has played a crucial role in providing early intervention, supervisory guidance, and support to innovators. It serves as an initial phase for innovators to prepare them for entry into the Regulatory Sandbox environment, which the Capital Market Authority plans to launch in 2023.
Since its inception approximately two years ago, the “Ebtaker” platform, as mentioned by Dr. Kassis, has welcomed a range of innovative ideas and solutions, particularly in the non-banking financial sector, with a specific focus on the insurance sector. Several of these ideas have been qualified and granted “no objection” letters to proceed with their operational phase and put their concepts into practical execution.
He added, due to the unique technical aspects and the challenges faced by the Palestinian insurance sector, which offer significant opportunities for innovative solutions based on insurance technology (Insurtech), the Capital Market Authority recognized the need to expand the scope of attracting more practical ideas and solutions in the field of insurance technology at both the regional and international levels. Consequently, they developed and launched a regional financial technology competition.
He added that the competition successfully attracted insurance technology companies from various regions, including European countries, Southeast Asian countries, the Middle East, and Africa. This diverse participation highlights the distinctive nature of this competition and the promising opportunities it presents for the Palestinian insurance sector. Furthermore, this competition is the first of its kind to target such a vital and essential sector as insurance.
The Chairman of the Palestinian Insurance Federation, Mohammed Al-Rimawi, stressed the importance of knowledge in the rapidly advancing field of technology, commending the Capital Market Authority for its initiatives to promote digital transformation. He further added that one of these platforms is the “Ebtaker” platform, which receives numerous ideas in the non-banking financial sector. Al-Rimawi emphasized the Federation’s commitment to participating in the competition’s judging committees, underscoring its significant importance for digital transformation.
He also mentioned the “strategic steps” taken by some Palestinian insurance companies towards digitization, which reduce costs and expedite procedures. These steps are seen as essential in expanding financial inclusion and enhancing access to insurance services through the advancement of financial technology in the sector.
Johannes Majewski, the Program Manager of the Alternative Finance for the Financial Inclusion Project for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in Palestine (A-FIN), funded by the German Cooperation for International Development (GIZ), highlighted the economic progress achieved by countries in the region over the past decade. Despite this progress, insurance prevalence remains low, and there is limited awareness of the benefits of insurance. He emphasized that insurance technology creates opportunities to enhance financial inclusion whereas for example it can reduce premium sums through reducing operational cost, and it may also increase insurance literacy through digital channels and change consumer habits regarding how they interact with insurance companies.