Meituan-Dianping, the world’s largest O2O lifestyle platform, has just obtained an insurance license through a subsidiary, according to an announcement by China Insurance Regulatory Commission (in Chinese). With the license, the company is entitled to operating insurance business in China.
This is not the first time the lifestyle e-commerce major making a foray into Chinese fintech space.
Back in 2016, the company has acquired third-party payment service qiandai.com through which it pocketed a third-party payment license which is critical to Meituan’s O2O ecosystem. In the same year, Meituan-Dianping initiated and bought a 28.5% stake in the first private bank in northeast China, Jilin Yilian Bank, which received duo license for small loan and private banking in January 2017.
Meituan-Dianping then rolled out small loan products in the second half of 2017, providing additional financial flexibility to micro-and-small local merchants, especially in the dining industry in which the company has a strong foothold with almost 60% of the whole market share.
With the newly acquired license for insurance, the company is expected to integrate more insurance products to its existing service offerings.
“More and more Chinese are aware of the importance of insurance. There are various insurance products that innovatively covers many aspects of life services. We see a big market and huge potential in the online insurance industry,” a Meituan exec told business media nbd.com.
“Meituan-Dianping is serving 600 million users and is working with over 4.5 million merchants across 2800 Chinese cities/prefectures, giving us a huge advantage to provide value-added services like insurance.”
Online insurance is the new battleground for Chinese tech moguls. Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu are all rushing to cutting a piece from the sector.
Zhong An, the first Chinese online insurer to get listed in Hong Kong in last September is backed by both Alibaba’s financial arm Ant Financial and Tencent as respectively the largest and second-largest stakeholder. Additionally, Tencent holds a 57.8% stake in an independent online insurance unit called Weimin Insurance Agency and sells its insurance products on the WeChat app, which has a whopping almost 1 billion MAU as of 2017 year-end. Robin Li’s Baidu also dipped toes into the field by acquiring Heilongjiang Lianbao Longjiang Insurance Agency.