Islamic insurance will be a key pillar of Charles Taylor InsureTech’s Middle Eastern expansion strategy as the firm looks to leverage its newly launched Dubai office as a launchpad into the wider GCC as well as potentially Southeast Asia and Africa.
“Islamic insurance is key in this part of the world and we are looking at making sure that we are able to service those operators that are specifically looking at solutions that are compliant with Shariah principles,” Shahid Safdar, Charles Taylor InsureTech’s managing director for the Middle East, told IFN Fintech.
The insurance technology firm, whose geographical footprint is mainly concentrated in Latin America, North America and Europe, opened an office in Dubai in June, its first foray into the Middle East.
“The intention is to create a solid foundation here in the UAE and broader GCC and use [Dubai] as a platform to expand further afield whether it is Southeast Asia or the subcontinent, but that is future planning,” Shahid, previously the chief digital officer of Takaful Emarat, said, adding that over the next six to 12 months, the priority for the firm is to engage and build upon its existing relationships in the region.
There is also a possibility for the insuretech entity to introduce tailored products for the GCC market.
“There are constant developments underway — we have development centers in Latin America and have done development work out of the UK; at some point, we will look at doing something here as well,” Shahid shared.
With less than 1% of the population in the UAE insured, an insurance penetration rate which is largely similar across the GCC, the Middle East represents a treasure trove of new commercial opportunities for Charles Taylor InsureTech. A number of the hurdles insurance operators, Islamic and conventional, face could be overcome by the right technology.
“Takaful and insurance are ripe for change — insuretech is not necessarily a threat but it is certainly an enabler of change and disruption,” explained Shahid, who described insuretech as a shot in the arm for the sector. “It is allowing the industry to look and apply new business models, new ways of working, [and] new ways of engaging with the target market that will actually revitalize the industry rather than threaten it.”