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Insurtech: Hong Kong’s Digital Insurance Firm Blue Launches New Outpatient Plan



Hong Kong-based digital life insurance firm Blue has confirmed the launch of its WeMedi Top Up (Outpatient) Protector, which is a top-up outpatient plan offered as part of the digital life insurance market.

As noted by its management:

“Blue is Hong Kong’s first digital life insurer – in fact we are more than that, much more. Blue designs simple, flexible insurance solutions with revolutionary experiences for you. We embrace technology to focus on your insurance needs now and into the future.”

The company adds:

“Forget about filling stacks of paper forms crammed with complex terms and conditions. We stand for clear product features, easy to understand terms, and products that you can personalise and buy directly from us online – your underwriter.”

Blue also notes that they hold themselves accountable to their clients’ life protection requirements, by providing direct online application experience and “easy to understand” products. The company claims there are no hidden charges and “no layers of commissioned sales.” The firm focuses on offering insurance solutions that customers truly value.

The Blue team also mentions that they believe “you know what you need best.” That’s why they take pride in “thinking ahead of our times, providing you with alternative options, because at the end of the day, we want to empower you to take full control of your own safety net.”

As mentioned in the update, the new plan from Blue aims to subsidize existing outpatient plans in order to assist clients with addressing the financial burden of medical bills. The plan enables clients to top up their existing group or personal outpatient reimbursement insurance plans by other insurance providers.

Clients may be subsidized for their outstanding medical bills after being reimbursed from other insurance providers, assisting them with reducing their overall protection gap.

With the Blue’s WeMedi Top Up (Outpatient) Protector plan, clients are reportedly entitled to the maximum top up benefit per policy year – which ranges from HKD 2,000 to HKD 10,500. With no waiting period, clients can receive instant coverage and are able to file a claim after the plan has become effective.

Blue’s management noted that the online application process should take around five minutes and personal medical reports are not needed when submitting paperwork. With the improved claim process, clients need to simply hand over a copy of medical bills/receipts and appropriate claim statements from their insurance providers in order to submit a claim. They might be able to get reimbursement through the Faster Payment System (FPS) in about an hour or a bit longer.

Charles Hung, CEO and Executive Director of Blue, stated:

“We are proud to launch yet another digital market-first solution that helps our customers minimise their expenses and make their lives easy. Our WeMedi Top Up (Outpatient) Protector plan is a prime example that Blue is dedicated to creating products that are flexible, easy and affordable, allowing our customers to feel comfortable when it comes to protecting their health.”

Blue is a joint venture initiative between Hillhouse Capital and Tencent Holdings Ltd.

Blue Insurance Ltd is an authorized insurer “under the Insurance Ordinance (Cap. 41) and only authorized to sell insurance products within Hong Kong.”

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Multichain Relayer Infrastructure Network Biconomy Secures $9M from DACM, Mechanism Capital, Coinbase Ventures, Others



Biconomy, a multichain relayer infrastructure network and transaction platform that enables Web3.0 developers to easily build applications, has revealed that it secured $9 million in a private funding round that was led by DACM and Mechanism Capital, along with contributions from  Coinbase Ventures, Coinfund, True Ventures, Bain Capital, NFX.

Other investors in Biconomy include Proof Group, Ledgerprime, Huobi Innovation Labs, Primitive Ventures, Genblock and Rarestone Capital as well as angel investments received from Stani from Aave, Hasu, thegostep of Flashbots, Prabhakar Reddy from Falcon X, Arbitrum founders, among others.

The completion of this round of financing “includes participation from previous investors including Woodstock Fund, Eden Block, and Zee Prime Capital,” according to an update shared with CI.

Web3.0 apps are facing critical roadblocks to user adoption such as complex user onboarding and “confusing” transaction experiences, the update from Biconomy explained.

At the core of Biconomy’s mission is “to facilitate easy access to decentralized blockchain interactions and create seamless multi-chain experiences,” the firm’s management told CI.

By enabling use-cases like gasless transactions, gas payments in ERC20 tokens, instant cross-chain transactions & easy onboarding to scaling solutions, Biconomy “reduces the friction between blockchain-based applications and end-users,” the announcement noted.

Ahmed Al-Balaghi, CEO of Biconomy, told Crowdfund Insider:

“The plethora of bottlenecks of Web3.0 transactions, such as gas fees, ETH-only payments, complicated onboarding processes, and fragmented L2s along with a booming multichain ecosystem emerging have created major challenges for blockchain adoption. If we are able to solve even a fraction of those challenges, we believe we will be able to onboard the next billion users into the DeFi and broader web3.0 ecosystem.”

The additional funding should help with propelling Biconomy “to further scale its current products, as well to ensure its multi-chain transaction infrastructure for next-generation Web3.0 applications.”

As noted in the release:

“It will decentralize its relayer network, including making essential technological developments, as well as expand its business ventures putting an emphasis on community growth. Biconomy has dubbed this phase ‘the revolution of Web 3.0 interactions’.”

Andrew Kang, Managing Partner at Mechanism Capital, explained that Biconomy’s plug and play SDK and APIs “enable developers to offer a convenient Web3.0 experience removing many of the friction points users are currently facing,”

He also noted that they’re “abstracting away blockchain complexities for applications end-users which drastically helps to reduce drop-off rates and increase user retention.”

Biconomy has grown rapidly since it was founded back in 2019. To date, the company has raised a total of $10.5 million. Biconomy has handled more than 3.6 million mainnet transactions “representing $572 million transaction volume for 30+ live integrations on all major chains.” They’re  also on an “exponential trajectory” with more than 200 decentralized application (dApp) integrations in the pipeline.

Adan D’Augelli, Partner at True Ventures, added:

“By enhancing developer and end-user experiences, Biconomy is paving the way for how blockchain applications are built. The technology they have created will be a core infrastructure for the future of blockchain-enabled digital economies.”

In addition to the new round of funding, Biconomy is now preparing to issue its native token $BICO. As part of “decentralizing” their multi-chain infrastructure, Biconomy intends to introduce a token that will “secure the network, enable community governance and incentivize all stakeholders.”

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Credit Suisse backed SME Lending Fintech Tradeplus24 Finalizes $25M Raise led by European Family Office



Credit Suisse-backed SME lending Fintech Tradeplus24 has finalized an “oversubscribed” $25 million pre-series B equity raise, which was led by a European family office with an established track record of investing in “high-growth” startups like Klarna, Delivery Hero, and Lyft.

Existing investors Credit Suisse, SIX Group, and Berliner Volksbank also took part in TradePlus24‘s latest investment round, which complements more than $200 million in total debt facilities secured across the group and which the group “plans to increase to $400 million by the end of 2021.”

As stated in a release:

“The capital injection will be used to fund rapid expansion of Tradeplus24’s Australian and European operations, including launching into the UK and the Netherlands later this year, and potential strategic acquisitions planned for later in 2021.”

Tradeplus24 was, at first, aiming for a $15 million equity round, however, significant investor confidence in its ability “to scale into multiple international markets and achieve rapid growth prompted the material increase to the round, which was also completed in just six weeks.”

The steady demand for Tradeplus24’s line of credit solution is “indicative of the global nature of the issue it solves,” according to the firm’s Australia MD, Adam Lane.

Lane remarked:

“There is nowhere in the world where the issues around efficient access to working capital for SMEs have been adequately addressed at scale. This is especially true when it comes to loan amounts ranging between $500k to $10 million. So the enormous demand for our unique tech-enabled line of credit solution is unsurprising – particularly as the world still comes to terms with the new business landscape created in the wake of the pandemic.”

Lane also mentioned:

“On top of our global roll out, we have already been investing heavily in growing our Australian team, which has doubled in the last 4 months, and in our technology, including creating bespoke solutions for priority segments. These solutions are focused on leveraging data to manage risk more effectively and make our customers’ lives easier.”

He added that it’s well-known that incumbents in the invoice finance sector “suffer from legacy systems, slow and manual processes, and an acute lack of innovation which forces their customers to waste countless hours on unnecessary and frustrating administration.”

He also noted that they’re focused on offering an alternative that provides “much-needed support to growing Aussie businesses, whose growth prospects will be massively amplified through greater access to capital via the simple and user-friendly solution Tradeplus24 provides.”

Will Farrant, MD at Credit Suisse Australia noted that after the group’s equity investment in Tradeplus24, the Credit Suisse debt capital markets team in Australia “have stayed close to the local Tradeplus24 team and we are optimistic in our ability to support them with a debt facility in the coming months as they continue to scale the business.”

The fresh funds have been announced after an oversubscribed Series A of $173 million in debt and equity, which was finalized back in 2019. Those funds supported Tradeplus24 through “significant growth,” the announcement noted while adding that the Australian business “trebled customer numbers in Q2 2021, spurred by an improving economy and positive customer response to products.”

Tradeplus24’s global team also “doubled in size” this year and is now expected “to continue to consistently grow as new markets open up and become accessible due to the funding.”

Tradeplus24 is “anticipating” opening a Series B next year, where it will look into admitting a strategic local Australian investor “to complement its heavyweight international backers,” the update revealed.

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Senator Elizabeth Warren Tells Treasury Secretary Yellen to Reign in Crypto Now



Senator Elizabeth Warren, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, has called on the Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen to reign in cryptocurrency – now.

In a letter sent to Yellen, Senator Warren told the Secretary to use the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) to mitigate the risk of the “highly volatile cryptocurrency market” and create a comprehensive approach to regulating digital assets.

Warren said:

“As the demand for cryptocurrencies continues to grow and these assets become more embedded in our financial system, consumers, the environment, and our financial system are under growing threats. FSOC must act quickly to use its statutory authority to address cryptocurrencies’ risks and regulate the market to ensure the safety and stability of consumers and our financial system.”

Yesterday, in a Senate Banking Committee hearing, Senator Warren slammed cryptocurrency as a risk to the entire financial system. Couching her criticism under the guise of investor protection, Warren called the cryptocurrency ecosystem “lousy.”

“Instead of lousy banks [crypto] puts control in the hands of shadowy developers.”

Senator Warren is under the belief that the traditional financial system has become intertwined with digital assets “such that disruption in the cryptocurrency market could spread throughout the financial sector.”

In the letter addressed to Secretary Yellen, Senator Warren outlined areas where she believes there is risk surrounding cryptocurrency:

  • Exposure to Hedge Funds and Other Investment Vehicles that Lack Transparency
  • Risk to Banks
  • Unique Threats Posed by Stablecoins
  • Use in Cyberattacks that Can Disrupt the Financial System
  • Risks from “Decentralized Finance” (DeFi)

The letter adds:

“FSOC should review this matter and determine whether it is appropriate to utilize its statutory authority to contain the systemic risks posed by the growing cryptocurrency market. The longer that the United States waits to adapt the proper regulatory regime for these assets, the more likely they will become so intertwined in our financial system that there could be potentially serious consequences if this market comes under stress.”

Earlier this month, Warren told SEC Chairman Gary Gensler that the securities regulator was not adhering to its mission of basic investor protections in regards to crypto exchanges.

Senator Warren is known as one of the most liberal members of the US Senate. She has long been a critique of cryptocurrency and has pushed back on financial innovation as well as attacking big banks.

Elizabeth Warren FSOC Crypto Letter 07.26.2021

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Umbria Network’s Narni Bridge Shows Testing Promise



While some testing remains on Umbria Network’s cross-chain Narni bridge, the initial results are promising, the company said this week.

Narni’s goal is to enable users to move ERC-20 tokens securely from one blockchain network to another cheaply, quickly, and easily. In testing, USDT was moved from Ethereum to Polygon in an average of 47 seconds at a cost of $2.80, while Polygon to Ethereum took on average two minutes and 12 seconds and cost $5.62. Quicker speeds will allow investors to capitalize on arbitrage opportunities.

Users will be able to quickly shift liquidity on high orders of magnitude from any decentralized exchange on any EVM compatible blockchain into Umbria’s DEX. This addresses friction experienced by exchanges limited to one network.

Narni users can earn rewards for providing liquidity in a new style of farming where those staking single assets on the bridge will earn APY, the highest rate of which is expected for stablecoin farmers. Narni’s auto-harvesting feature will also save users money.

“Umbria will have a bridge, which allows people to potentially transfer all their assets very easily from any DEX – such as Uniswap or SushiSwap – on any EVM compatible blockchain into the Umbria protocol. This will give Umbria a massive advantage over many of its DeFi competitors,” said Oscar Chambers, co-lead developer of Umbria. “Umbria is going to be like the mothership with lots of people passing through its ecosystem as they move from one corner of the DeFi space to the other.”

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