More insurers to make life insurance purchases available on mobile phones

Mobile phones have become an important medium for doing business – and insurers recognize the potential in allowing consumers to make purchases via their mobile phones. The insurance industry is highly competitive and insurers are in a constant race to develop new products to give them “the edge” over their competitors.

It should be expected that many of these new products will recognize the increased availability of smartphones as well as the increased willingliness with which purchases are made from these devices.

We have earlier discussed the ease with which life insurance can be found online. It appears that online is not limited merely to finding and purchasing insurance from behind the PC and laptop – but now also from the mobile phone!

Mobile life insurance was also discussed earlier on this Blog in a post titled “MTN and Hollard partner in first mobile money life insurance service in Ghana”. This partnership delivered a product called mi-Life and enables consumers in Ghana to purchase life insurance with their mobile phones. I would like to quote from this post:

“mi-Life is designed to meet the growing demand for insurance services across developing markets. According to a Lloyds study in 2009 the market for efficient, cheap and simple insurance in developing countries is estimated to be between 1.5 and three billion policies. The ubiquity of mobile and strength of the MTN brand makes Mobile Money the ideal platform to deliver financial services in Africa.”

Yesterday it was revealed by Kathryn McConnachie, journalist at ITWeb, that 1Lifedirect has launched what it calls the first “whole life cover” mobile insurance service in SA – allowing users to purchase, view and administer up to R500 000 life cover via their mobile phones.

Anton de Souza, CEO of 1Lifedirect, said: “Part of 1Lifedirect’s value proposition is to be simple and convenient by giving clients the flexibility to deal with their personal insurance needs via their channel of choice, providing them with more personal control of their life insurance needs.”

1Lifedirect also revealed some interesting insights with regards to the technology and insurance product developed. These include:

  • That according to their research 1Lifedirect is the first company in the world to build an end-to-end instant life cover fulfilment process using WAP-enabled technology, accessible on any smart phone.
  • 1Lifedirect clients will be able to view and make changes to their policies using Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) technology.
  • This technology is available on all cellphones, which makes the functionality of being able to view and make changes to life cover accessible to all South Africans.


Insurers are very positive on the potential for the mobile insurance industry in Africa and South Africa. It is believed that increased access to the internet, the strong growth in the smartphone market and the simplicity of technology will further support purchases on mobile phones.

1Lifedirect estimates that:

  • There are 39 million mobile users in SA, and this figure is expected to rise to 48 million by 2012.
  • South Africans have almost twice as many cellphones as TV sets, and there are more than four times as many households with a cellphone than a computer.
  • Forty-four percent of e-mails are sent and received from a cellphone and 5.3 times more homes have cellphones than landline telephones.

These developments in the insurance industry should not be seen in isolation – we might also reflect on what is happening in the mobile health Industry. The Department of Communications has recognized the importance of increased access to mobile phones and the potential that this could have for health education and job creation.

To quote from the Deputy Minister of Communications”

“As government, we will continue to strive to reduce the digital divide and improve access to ICT for all our people in SA by making meaningful investments towards the necessary resources such as human capital, technical expertise and broadband network infrastructure.”

We can expect to find more insurers to join the mobile insurance industry and to make available a much wider product range to be purchased from our mobile phones!

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