FWD Group, a pan-Asian life insurance company, has entered into a four-year partnership with Microsoft to utilise the US tech giant’s latest GenAI technology.  

This alliance is aimed at powering FWD’s GenAI initiatives through Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI Service, alongside other enterprise-grade solutions. 

It is expected to bolster FWD’s capabilities with Azure’s private networking, monitoring and security features, as well as access to advanced AI models.  

Hong Kong-based FWD said it is focusing on improving customer experience and operational efficiency in various domains including acquisition, channel and agent performance, claims, customer service, marketing and underwriting. 

This collaboration emerges amidst ongoing US-China technological tensions.  

As reported by the South China Morning Post (SCMP), OpenAI’s services are not directly available in China, with Hong Kong IP addresses also being blocked due to US sanctions. 

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However, Microsoft Azure facilitates Hong Kong users’ access to OpenAI’s language models, including the recently released GPT-4.  

Since commencing its AI journey in 2019, FWD has developed nearly 200 active AI models, addressing more than 600 use cases within its operations. 

FWD Group group chief digital officer Ryan Kim said: “Digital innovation has always been core to FWD’s vision of changing the way people feel about insurance. This collaboration marries FWD’s pioneering spirit in Asia in some of the fastest-growing insurance markets in the world, with the global scale and skill that Microsoft brings in engineering and AI.” 

Microsoft corporate vice-president of worldwide financial services Bill Borden said: “AI is driving transformation across the financial services industry, opening new opportunities for innovation and business growth with agility and at scale.  

“We are thrilled to strengthen our AI partnership with FWD by offering Azure OpenAI Service and Copilot for Microsoft 365 capabilities to enable world-class customer experiences and operations securely and responsibly.” 

Earlier this month, Bloomberg reported that Hong Kong billionaire Richard Li -backed FWD is exploring strategic options such as a potential stake sale, following a postponed initial public offering.  

This transaction could place the insurer’s valuation at approximately $10bn (HK$78.23bn).  

However, Pacific Century Group, the owner of the life insurer, said that that Li will retain control over FWD, reported SCMP.