Southeast Asian ride-sharing firm Grab is targeting to launch its high definition (HD) mapping in the region’s most populous market, Indonesia, this year.
Speaking at the Indonesia PE-VC Summit 2020 in Jakarta last week, Grab Indonesia president Ridzki Kramadibrata said the ride-hailing startup is in the midst of developing maps that are built with self-driving vehicles in mind.
“We have launched our electrical vehicle (EV) initiatives and e-healthcare product with partners last year. In terms of HD mapping, we have many initiatives in place. We believe sometime this year, we will be able to materialize it,” he said.
In July last year, SoftBank earmarked an investment of $2 billion in Indonesia via Grab. The Singapore-headquartered firm later kicked off its electric vehicle ecosystem investment through its collaboration with the government and corporate leaders such as Hyundai, Astra Honda Motor and Gesits. It also launched its e-healthcare platform by partnering with Ping An Good Doctor.
Edited excerpts from a fireside chat with Ridzki Kramadibrata:-
Do you anticipate a slowdown in your investments this year? Have you seen the impact of funding squeeze on the market?
We have been blessed with private capital, without so much need of raising capital at the moment. Our focus is not only to survive but to build a solid business and creating sustainable growth.
A lot of your capital comes from Softbank. When we think of SoftBank, we think of the WeWork debacle and Uber’s IPO. Could these issues push back your own IPO plans?
Grab has been blessed with a good amount of private capital. IPO is not our immediate priority at the moment. Our focus is on creating value and growing our business.
Talking about the competition, GoJek founder Nadiem Makarim is now a minister in the government. What was your first reaction when you heard the news? How do you think this will impact the industry?
On the day the announcement was made, we made a congratulatory release to the media and to Nadiem. We see this as a positive signal that the Indonesian government is embracing changes. Appointing a leader from a startup as a cabinet member is unprecedented. We don’t see so much immediate or direct impact on Grab. We believe such change is positive for business, especially in the areas of digitalization, startups, the new economy, and education.
There have been concerns about some regulations such as more taxes on e-wallet transactions. How do you view some of these moves?
Such plans, if there are any, will really impact many, especially micro-entrepreneurs, on our platform. Across Southeast Asia, there are 9 million entrepreneurs on our platform. In Indonesia itself, there are more or less about 5 million micro-entrepreneurs. So it is important to have a balanced policy benefitting not only large businesses but also small businesses.
Any updates on the Ovo-Dana merger since you are a stakeholder in Ovo?
Ovo (Indonesian digital payment firm) has been our great strategic partner, we see this as a positive sign of market acceptance towards the electronic payment. We expect more changes in terms of its growth dynamics.
Profitability has become a buzzword of late. How close is Grab Indonesia to profitability?
For us, using capital efficiently to support sustainable growth will be key. We have always been disciplined in our goals. Grab is profitable in certain markets. Some markets that are not profitable yet, we are very clear on their sight to profitability. We have always been responsible in utilizing investor money.
What opportunities are you seeing in Indonesia’s new capital city?
For Indonesia itself, it is another big leap of change in terms of industrialization. We see its direction to build a new metropolitan city which is cleaner as an opportunity. It goes in line with our goals to be a key player in the EV industry. We can contribute a lot via our partnerships with SoftBank in creating a smart city.