Grab said to have discussed buying Asia payments startup 2C2P

Singapore ride-hailing giant Grab held talks to acquire payments provider 2C2P Pte and was turned down, according to people familiar with the matter, a sign of the ambitions Southeast Asia’s most valuable startup has in financial services.

Grab was one of multiple possible bidders interested in 2C2P with preliminary offers ranging up to about $200 million, said the people, asking not to be identified because the information is private. The payments startup, also based in Singapore, decided instead to raise additional capital to keep expanding as an independent company, they said.

Grab’s move underscores the growing interest in Asia’s burgeoning mobile payments market as more consumers move online to shop, order meals and book flight tickets and hotel rooms. Driven by the proliferation of new technologies and startups, the region’s financial services are undergoing a transformation, while governments across Southeast Asia are pushing ahead with efforts to create cashless economies.

Representatives for Grab and 2C2P declined to comment.

Online Boom

Grab, founded in 2012 by Anthony Tan and Tan Hooi Ling, is valued at $14 billion, according to CB Insights. To live up to that lofty figure, the company is expanding beyond ride-hailing with ambitions to create an an all-in-one “super app” in Southeast Asia, similar to Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat for China.

Its GrabPay service allows consumers to pick up the tab for rides and order food, and it’s expanding into lending and insurance. In 2018, it debuted a financial technology platform and launched Grab Ventures to fund promising startups. Grab is also said to be considering applying for a digital banking license if Singapore’s regulator allows it.

2C2P was founded in Bangkok in 2003 by Aung Kyaw Moe, a Myanmar-born computer programmer. The company counts Facebook Inc., Apple Inc., airlines and online marketplaces among its 350 large customers. 2C2P helps companies such as Thai Airways, Agoda, Traveloka, Lazada, Zara and Central Online Shopping accept different types of payments online from Southeast Asian customers.

2C2P’s revenue grew 74% to $52 million in 2018, after more than doubling in 2017, according to the company’s filing with Singapore’s regulator.

Bloomberg