Singapore based ride-hailing platform Grab has launched a beta trial of GrabTaxi service in Yangon beginning March 21, the company announced, marking its first expansion to a new market in nearly three years. Grab also appears to have got a head-start over its rival Uber in entering one of the few remaining untapped markets in this region
Grab also becomes the first ride hailing service from abroad to enter Myanmar, and it will be competing with a few local on-demand ride hailing services in Yangon.
Local media reports said that Uber executives had met Myanmar government representatives in January, although the US-headquartered firm has so far made no announcements of any plans for that country.
TechCrunch, in a report quoted the Uber spokesperson as stating: “Uber is very pleased with the progress we have made towards a partnership with the government in Yangon and look forward to introducing our ride-sharing technology in the country very soon.”
Myanmar has a few local players in the ride-hailing space including the likes of Hello Cabs and Oway, although these work differently when compared the booking over an app on a smartphone for Grab and Uber. Residents in Yangon currently dial the call center to book a cab with local players.
“We are committed to work with the taxi industry and other transport stakeholders during our GrabTaxi beta trial, and work together to test and improve our taxi service to both drivers and passengers,” Grab VP of marketing Cheryl Goh said in a statement.
Grab also added that it was eager to bring its ISO-certified practices to Myanmar and contribute to the changes made to the Yangon transport system.
Currently users can sign up for the Grab beta trial, and it then plans to allow select customers to try beta trials by the first week of April.
“We are committed to work with the taxi industry and other transport stakeholders during our GrabTaxi beta trial, and work together to test and improve our taxi service to both drivers and passengers,” Goh added.
Grab claims that it has 710,000 drivers across 39 cities currently in Southeast Asia. In addition to its ride-hailing platform, it also offers GrabPay, a mobile payments platform.
Last month, it had announced the launch of ‘Grab 4 Indonesia’ 2020 master plan, where it plans to invest $700 million in Southeast Asia’s largest economy over the next four years.
In February, Grab also launched ‘Grab 4 Indonesia’ 2020 master plan for making a $700 million investment in Indonesia over the next four years. While Grab is betting big on Indonesia, it is also involved in fierce battle Go-Jek, the homegrown ride-hailing service there, which last year had raised.
“We will provide services in more cities, as long as there is a market need and opportunity,” said Goh.
While on a trial in Yangon, Grab is expanding its reach in Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia in the next two quarters. Two cities in Thailand _ Ubon Ratchathani and Khon Kaen, four cities in Indonesia _ Makassar, Medan, Solo and Yogyakarta and four cities in Malaysia _ Ipoh, Kuantan, Kuching and Seremban will see Grab entering.
The two popular local brands, Hello Cabs and Oway have both raised investments to expand their market share in the country. The International Finance Corporation, the private investment arm of the World Bank Group is learnt to have committed $3 million investment in Oway in May 2016. Onway had been looking to raise about $10 million. Emerging Markets Group Holding has also invested in Oway. Hello Cabs has raised a seven digit investment and it has expanded its offerings to Mandalay.