Baidu's central role in a new Chinese digital insurance joint venture has a direct connection with China's online travel industry now that Baidu owns 25% of market leader Ctrip.
The startup will be known as Bai An and has global insurance giant Allianz and Asian investment fund Hillhouse Capital as the other co-founders.
Baidu is positioning the service as part of its "internet + finance" initiative, following on from its launch last week of another JV, creating an internet bank in partnership with China CITIC Bank.
However, travel and leisure are clearly identified as a target vertical for Bai An. Baidu's says:
"The new Internet insurance company will meet the growing demand for diversified, customized, and scenario-based insurance products.
"Scenario-based insurance consists of small, situational insurance protection offered for high-frequency location-based or internet transactions such as online travel agency (OTA) purchases, online-to-offline (O2O) services such as dining or movie theater tickets, e-commerce, and other online transactions."
And with a nod to the future and the so-called sharing economy, Allianz' co-operation with Airbnb and Uber is mentioned in the context of the insurance giant's product innovation credentials.
Baidu's position in the Chinese online travel sector has stepped up a gear following the Ctrip and Qunar share-swap which gives it a 25% stake in Ctrip. Ctrip's public comments about the new relationship have talked about access to Baidu products such as Maps, mobile and PC traffic and associated data, O20 and payments.
It appears as if "insurance" can now be added to the list.