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Insurance joins mobile race

5 July 2011
1 minute read

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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.

“Based on our research, 1Lifedirect is also 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,” it says.

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.”

Anton de Souza, CEO of 1Lifedirect, says: “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.”

Mobile opportunity
According to the insurance company, SA has seen a phenomenal growth in mobile Internet usage. “Some of the reasons for this growth include a lack of fixed-line implementation and the infiltration of so-called 'feature phones' and smartphones,” says 1Lifedirect.

While the new offering from 1Lifedirect may be a South African first, a similar m-insurance product was launched elsewhere in Africa earlier this year.

Hollard Insurance and MTN partnered to create mi-Life, a mobile money life insurance service. The service allows users to submit claims, queries and make premium payments via their handsets.

MTN reportedly has its sights on expanding the initiative to other West African countries.

Forward looking
Current estimates say 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,” says 1Lifedirect.

“Forty-four percent of e-mails are sent and received from a cellphone and 5.3 times more homes have cellphones than landline telephones.”

“Adoption rates and access to the mobile Internet are set to change the way we access the Internet. This may very well be the way life insurance is purchased in the future,” concludes De Souza.

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