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Buffett firm bets on mobiles, social media in India

business Updated: Apr 14, 2013 21:03 IST
Warren Buffett

With an aim to become a leading online insurance provider, the Indian venture of Warren Buffett-led Berkshire Hathaway group is betting big on the popularity of mobile phones and social media to boost its business.

Berkshire India sells motor, travel and health insurance products online at on BerkshireInsurance.com, and will soon start selling life insurance products as a corporate agent of Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance.

Having started operations here in 2011 with just eight employees, Berkshire India currently has more than 100 employees and is headquartered at Gurgaon near here.

The company uses a unique mode for insurance sales through Internet and expects the growing popularity of Internet-enabled mobile devices to aid to this cost-effective business model.

“...Over half of India’s total Internet user base will access Internet solely through mobile or tablet devices by 2015. Since our direct model of business employs telephone and Internet, we are positioned to enjoy a great advantage,” BerkshireInsurance.com CEO Arun Balakrishnan said.

"We are confident of our business model and are continually developing it to make it even more efficient and cost effective," he said.

India is estimated to have the world’s third-largest Internet user base of 120 million people.

Berkshire India also expects social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to play an increasingly crucial role.

“As we progress towards becoming the one-stop shop for insurance, our aim is not just to sell insurance but to help the customer understand the nuances of insurance. It is here that social media plays a major role... We realise that the major attraction of the online mode for a customer is a relatively cheaper pricing,” Balakrishnan said.

“As use of mobile Internet increases, our penetration to the rural and semi-urban areas will grow rapidly. Our rural penetration is expected to closely toe that of the telecom sector,” Balakrishnan said.