Myanmar insurance is a huge opportunity for foreign investors – IKBZ

Myanmar Thilawa – Myanmar's first special economic zone – signals a new chapter for foreign investment in Myanmar, says IKBZ Insurance's Nyo Myint

January 22, 2016

Most sectors in Myanmar’s opening economy are growing – and that is certainly true of the insurance industry. Nyo Myint, Vice Chairman of IKBZ Insurance, says insurance has great potential for foreign investors seeking opportunities in Myanmar’s modernised financial services sector.

World Finance: Most sectors in Mynamar’s opening economy are growing – and that is certainly true of the insurance industry. With me to discuss is Nyo Myint, Vice Chairman of IKBZ Insurance.

Well Nyo Myint, I want to start with the financial landscape in Myanmar. How does that stand today in the context of the insurance sector?

Nyo Myint: The country is now on the path of economic development. Big changes have been witnessed in all sectors, including insurance. The insurance market was opened up to domestic private players just two years back.

The insurance sector has great potential. But for the moment there is extremely low insurance penetration.

In 2014, some eminent multinational insurers began establishing domestic offices. There are already about 24 insurance companies that have opened offices in Myanmar. Among those companies that have been in Myanmar over three years were allowed to operate insurance services within the Myanmar special economic zone.

However, the Myanmar insurance industry is still in its infancy, and it has a lot of opportunities for both domestic and foreign insurers.

World Finance: And when did the market open up for private insurers?

Nyo Myint: Under the guidance of the government of Myanmar, the insurance business supervisory board was formed, and launched the licence application process for private insurance companies back in 2012, in order to diversify the provision of insurance services, and to modernise the sector.

The insurance industry in Myanmar began a transition from a centrally planned operation into something closer to a free market in late 2012.

A five decade long monopoly of the state-owned Myanma insurance was ended when the 12 private insurance companies were established, with six life insurers and six composite insurers in 2013.

World Finance: And how is IKBZ positioned in Myanmar’s insurance sector?

Nyo Myint: IKBZ is the first private insurer in Myanmar to be registered as a company. Through a growing network of 14+ branches across Myanmar, and also engaging wider branches of about 360+ of our sister concern Kanbawza Bank as a window to reach out to our customers, ee are within reach of the majority of the population of Myanmar.

Within this short span of time, we have earned a good reputation for our excellent performance in services delivered. We dominate the largest market share with the highest amount of premium income compared to our competitor companies.

World Finance: And how are client needs changing – and how does your company react to this?

Nyo Myint: We believe that the customer is the king. Therefore we put the client’s needs at the centre of everything we do.

We recommend the products and required coverage for them, all based on their changing needs. Amendments are also undertaken and encouraged.

We invest a lot in digital technology and infrastructure, making it easier, better, and faster to do business with us. Whenever a claim arises we make a promise to give compensation as soon as possible.

World Finance: And in the insurance sector, are there opportunities for foreign investors?

Nyo Myint: Myanmar is regarded by the international communities as the last frontier of Asia.

According to the Myanmar investment commission, the oil and gas sector is the main driver of growth. But apart from the oil and gas sector, there are many key areas: agriculture, electric power generation, telecommunications, manufacturing, and infrastructure.

Myanmar Thilawa, a special economic zone near Yangon, was put into operation, signifying the opening of a new chapter of investment in Myanmar.

World Finance: Well finally, what’s in the pipeline for IKBZ, and indeed how do you see the insurance sector in Myanmar evolving in the future?

Nyo Myint: Currently we are working to transform ourselves to be regionally competitive, while maintaining our position with the largest market share in Myanmar.

With the successful completion of the general elections in Myanmar last month, which is anticipated to bring significant development and betterment to the country, we hope that facing the rapid flow of foreign investment under the management of the new government, the insurance business regulatory body will open the market further. And eventually allow domestic private insurers with more premium products and opportunities to work with the multinational insurers at early stages.