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DEC 16, 2023

Digital asset insurer funds Middle East expansion

by CoinNess Global

OneDegree, a Hong Kong-based InsurTech startup is expanding its area of engagement to the Middle East, funded through an undisclosed investment from Dubai Insurance.

Fresh funding round to finance growth

The seven-year-old startup announced on Friday that it has secured further funding, solidifying its commitment to Middle East expansion while building upon the success of OneDegree’s $55 million Series B round in June. Total funds raised are believed to be in the region of $100 million.
The Series B round was required to expand its digital assets insurance portfolio. Similarly, the partnership with Dubai Insurance is aimed at facilitating OneDegree’s expansion into the digital asset insurance sector within the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Gulf region. The startup firm will now proceed to establish a new entity in Dubai and hire staff locally to take on new business in the region.
Among its notable investors are Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund (AEF) Greater Bay Area Fund, Sun Hung Kai & Co and Cathay Venture, the venture capital arm of Taiwanese billionaire Tsai Hong-tu’s Cathay Financial Holdings. OneDegree’s CEO, Alvin Kwock, has stated that the company is on track to achieve profitability by the second half of 2024.

Ministerial interest

It’s understood that the UAE’s economy minister, Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri, had outlined his interest in OneDegree bringing its service offering to the UAE when he met with representatives from the company at the Belt and Road Summit in Hong Kong in September.
Given that OneDegree is planning to service the digital assets sector in the UAE, the move aligns with Dubai’s new crypto regulatory framework implemented earlier this year, which mandates insurance coverage for licensees engaged in crypto-related businesses to safeguard users’ funds. Major players in the crypto industry, such as Binance, and OKX, have already established a presence in Dubai.

Only digital asset insurer in Asia

In a video interview from Dubai on Friday with Forbes, Alvin Kwock emphasized OneDegree’s unique position as the first and only licensed insurer in Asia capable of providing digital asset insurance.
Kwock revealed that approximately half of the world’s top 20 crypto exchanges have approached OneDegree for its digital asset insurance, with some of them already being clients. The startup has extended its services to around 30 companies, including Cactus Custody, the custodian unit of Singapore’s Matrixport; Rakkar Digital, backed by Thailand’s Siam Commercial Bank; and Hashkey, one of Hong Kong’s licensed crypto exchanges.
In July it penned a deal with blockchain infrastructure firm Blockdaemon. Meanwhile, it has been underwriting digital assets for crypto custodian METACO since November 2022.
Anticipating substantial growth, Kwock expects the number of OneDegree’s digital asset insurance customers to surpass 100 by the end of 2024. He foresees this segment constituting about half of the company’s total business in the coming year, up from the current level of 30%. Kwock underscored the evolving dynamics in the crypto market, emphasizing the increasing importance of risk management and the essential role of insurance in the digital asset industry.
OneDegree’s expansion into the UAE aligns with the nation’s crypto-friendly policies, actively attracting firms to leverage its supportive regulatory environment. Indirectly, it also serves the Hong Kong government’s strategy to deepen business ties with the Middle East.
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