GoBear has launched comparisons of all credit cards available in the retail market here.
HANDLING complaints from irate insurers whose products end up at the bottom of the barrel is all in a day's work for Andre Hesselink, chief executive of comparison site GoBear.
The resistance to comparison sites is tremendous, he admitted in an interview with The Business Times, as insurance companies here are reluctant to be compared "because it becomes obvious that their products are not as good as they say or the price is not as competitive".
But the Dutchman might just want to steel himself for more complaints, with GoBear having launched, on Dec 8, comparisons of all credit cards available in the retail market.
"In Asia, there are a lot of searches for financial products, but people don't know where to go," said Mr Hesselink.
Every year, there are about 660,000 credit-card related searches online. Singapore sees some 55,000 such searches every month. Between 2010 and 2014, the number of credit cards issued saw a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.7 per cent. The CAGR for the same period for China, Indonesia, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam were between 0.74 per cent and 22.8 per cent. Malaysia was the only one that bucked the trend, at -0.89 per cent.
GoBear, backed by a privately held company with more than 40 employees, went live in March in Singapore, providing travel and car insurance comparisons. International health insurance products were later added.
The customer-centric portal now compares at least 90 per cent of travel and health insurance products in the market, and more than 60 per cent of motor insurance products here.
The idea for a simple user-friendly comparison came after Mr Hesselink grew frustrated trying to get car insurance here in 2013.
"As long as the market is not transparent, it's very difficult for people to find out what's best for them.
"We are unbiased because we don't sell any products," he said, adding that the site does not work on a commission basis unlike others here.
Instead, GoBear gets paid "like Google" - by the number of click outs, or when a product is chosen.
"Partners have to pay for the clicks, but whether the customer buys or not, that does not matter," said Mr Hesselink.
Currently in Singapore and Thailand, GoBear will launch in Malaysia before the end of the year. Mr Hesselink aims to launch in the Philippines, Hong Kong and Vietnam next year, and in Indonesia in 2017.
The Thailand site hits a monthly visitorship of 600,000. In Singapore, the number stands at about 100,000 and revenue here has grown 400 per cent since operations began.
Despite the promising outlook, a key challenge remains - more than half of the insurers do not have mobile-friendly websites.
"Not all suppliers are up to speed with modern technology. For example, 50 per cent of our users already come in through mobile so we have a mobile responsive website. Now, if you then go to a supplier's website which is not mobile-responsive, that's very frustrating because on our page it works perfectly then suddenly when you get to their website, it doesn't work and you can't fill in your details."
To overcome this, Mr Hesselink's team has developed a landing page to make it a more seamless transaction for users.
This article was originally published in The Business Times.
For the full article, please visit The Business Times 14 December 2015.