Grab acquires SG’s robo-advisory startup Bento for wealth management foray

FILE PHOTO: The helmet of a Grab bike rider is seen during rush hour traffic in Jakarta, Indonesia, July 18, 2016. REUTERS/Iqro Rinaldi

Grab has acquired Bento Invest, a Singapore-based robo-advisory startup, to add wealth management products to its offerings in Southeast Asia, according to an announcement.

The size of the deal was not disclosed.

This is a new area for the Southeast Asian super app, which currently offers a wide suite of products across ride-hailing, food delivery, courier delivery, insurance, travel booking and video screening.

According to a statement, the new vertical will be called GrabInvest, with new products to be launched on the Grab app in 1H 2020 in Singapore.

GrabInvest will be led by Bento’s CEO and founder, Chandrima Das, a former managing director at Bank of Singapore and former CEO of ING Investment Management. GrabInvest will come under the Grab Financial umbrella, which also offers payments, rewards, lending and insurance services to its users.

“The Bento and Grab Financial teams share a common vision to democratise investments for our customers irrespective of their wallet size. I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Grab ecosystem as we work together to make wealth management solutions serve the financial needs of millions of Southeast Asians,” said Das, Grab Financial Group’s new head of wealth management.

GrabInvest will operate under Singapore’s retail wealth management capital markets services licence, which is also called the MAS Retail Licensed Fund Management Company (LFMC) licence.

Grab isn’t the only Southeast Asian tech giant dabbling in wealth management.

Indonesia’s e-commerce players Tokopedia and Bukalapak currently partner with mutual fund platforms like OVO-owned Bareksa to offer wealth management to its users.

Gojek has also taken a passive approach, investing in fintech startups like Pluang, which allows users to trade gold on its platform. Gojek’s venture arm, Go-Ventures, led Pluang’s $3 million Series A round in September last year.

One source told DealStreetAsia that Tokopedia has shown interest in robo-advisory firms in recent months, as it seeks investment targets to enhance its financial services portfolio. Robo-advisory firms, however, remain a small and highly fragmented sector in Southeast Asia, with a multitude of players and few big winners.

Notable robo-advisory players in the region include Singapore-based players StashAway and WeInvest, which are backed by Eight Roads Ventures and Schroders plc, respectively, as well as Finnomena, an Openspace Ventures-backed fintech startup based in Bangkok.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.