New insurance technology firm, Aqeed.com, launched in the UAE on Tuesday after securing $18 million in series A funding from its corporate shareholders.
The InsureTech specialist, which says it will “disrupt” the way insurance is bought and managed in the region, secured the funding from the shareholders behind Barents, an international Reinsurance group, and Equitrust, a company member of Choueiri Group, a leading media and advertising conglomerate in the region.
"As an InsureTech veteran myself, Aqeed not only directly addresses problems common to the insurance market, but the concept goes over and beyond insurance aggregators currently in place," said Rachid Abi Nader, the company's chief executive.
Aqeed said the funds will boost its penetration into the UAE market and help the company expand its team and invest in the latest insurance technology.
The firm is entering a busy market with several financial aggregators, such as Souqalmal.com and yallacompare.com, already offering online access to insurance products.
Philip Bahoshy, chief executive of the start-up online community platform Magnitt, said Aqeed's launch was significant as it is the “emergence of a player specialising in insurance provision as opposed to financial product comparison”.
‘It’s another sign of the growing interest in the fintech space by entrepreneurs and investors alike,” said Mr Bahoshy.
In October, Souqalmal.com raised $10m in Series B funding to expand its regional presence, with leading UK firm GoCompare joining the funding round. In February, the company announced that residents buying car insurance from 15 providers, via its online platform, can now swap their annual premium in favour or monthly instalments.
Hadi Radwan, Aqeed's chief product officer, said the company has a different model to its competitors.
“We focus on bringing innovation across the whole insurance value chain such as product development, marketing, distribution, pricing, and claims. Our competitors tackle only one area of the insurance market, which is distribution," he said.
The Aqeed fund raising is the largest round for an insuretech company in the region.
Mr Bahoshy said the firm's structure is interesting as "they are an early stage start-up that are specifically backed by corporate shareholders".
“Given the deep insight specialisation in the founding team, they have looked for corporate venture capital support as opposed to venture capitalist support to seed their investment," he added. "It is a sizeable investment that should provide runway for considerable growth and development."
Patrick Thiriet, chief strategy officer of Choueiri Group, said: “Aqeed is introducing smart insuretech to improve the life of Mena consumers and we are delighted to be their partner in this exciting journey."