Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New licences to boost takaful take-up to 18%

by Jason NgThe penetration rate of takaful in Malaysia may increase up to 18% by 2013 following the issuance of four new licences by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) last week.

Presently, the penetration rate of takaful, or Shariah-compliant insurance, is just around 10% and the entry of four new operators will help to increase the reach to nonurban centres, said Malaysian Takaful Association chairman, Datuk Syed Moheeb Syed Kamarulzaman. "The market is very big and the penetration rate will accelerate with the new players," he told The Malaysian Reserve in a phone interview recently.

Under liberalisation measures of the financial services sector, BNM has granted four foreign-local joint ventures the licences to operate family takaful business in Malaysia, a market where about 60% of its 28 million population are Muslim, to help develop the industry and boost take-up rate.

The four are: American International Assurance Bhd (70%) and Alliance Bank Malaysia Bhd (30%); AMMB Holdings Bhd (70%) and Friends Provident Group plc (30%); ING Management Holdings (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd (60%), Public Bank Bhd (20%) and Public Islamic Bank Bhd (20%); The Great Eastern Life Assurance Company Ltd (70%) and Koperasi Angkatan Tentera Malaysia Bhd (30%).

Instead of selling risk at a price to the insurer, takaful is based on "mutual cooperation" where either part or all of the contribution paid is donated to the takaful fund, which also helps other participants by providing protection against potential risks.

"Certain sector of the market is difficult to reach especially the rural areas and where microtakaful can be beneficial. Since there are four new operators instead of two, we believe the penetration rate will accelerate," said Syed Moheeb, who is also the president of local takaful operator, Takaful Ikhlas Sdn Bhd. Two new family takaful licences were up for grabs as announced back in April 27, however, given the "vast potential" to enhance insurance penetration rate in Malaysia and in the region, BNM has decided to allow two more licences after considering the "strength of the applicants".

There are eight existing takaful operators in Malaysia, according to BNM website, namely CIMB Aviva Takaful Bhd, Etiqa Takaful Bhd, Hong Leong Tokio Marine Takaful Bhd, HSBC Amanah Takaful (M) Sdn Bhd, MAA Takaful Bhd, Prudential BSN Takaful Bhd, Syarikat Takaful Malaysia Bhd and Takaful Ikhlas Sdn Bhd. The new operators are expected to start business as early as 2011 as it "will take roughly six months for the new players to set up their business," said Syed Moheeb.

(This story appeared in The Malaysian Reserve on 4 October 2010. The Malaysian Reserve is a daily business/finance newspaper published out of Kuala Lumpur, with a sectoral page on Islamic finance on Mondays, edited by Habhajan Singh)

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