Singapore: Grab’s new digital wallet service is latest salvo in payments battle

Photo: Grab website

Grab, Southeast Asia’s largest ride-hailing app, is kicking off a new digital wallet service in Singapore as it stakes a claim to the region’s burgeoning mobile payments sector.

Starting Wednesday, Grab will enable its 4 million users in the city-state to scan a quick response, or QR, code to pay for local dishes such as chicken rice and prawn noodles at hawker stands around the country. Grab plans to increase the number of small merchants accepting GrabPay from 25 to 1,000 by the end of December.

Grab, which is bigger than Uber Technologies Inc. in Southeast Asia, wants to build on its success in ride-hailing by adding new services in the more lucrative payments market. The company has expanded from taxi booking to private vehicles, rental cars and shuttle bus services. The five-year-old startup plans to roll out mobile wallet services across the region next year, according to co-founder Tan Hooi Ling.

“It’s just like Grab for transport; when we first started, people didn’t know about it and they needed to try it,” Tan said in an interview in Singapore. “That’s the same transition we can bring with GrabPay, in fact at a faster pace because we already have the user base, trust and technology.”

Grab is among companies racing to be the top mobile payments platform in Singapore, where there is no dominant player. Preference for cash in the country remains higher than the average across the Asia Pacific region, according to a report from Paypal Holdings Inc. Several firms including DBS Group Holdings Ltd. and Visa Inc. are encouraging small cash-based merchants to adopt cashless payments.

As the company expands its payments in Singapore, it’s hit a hurdle in Indonesia after the central bank suspended unlicensed top-up facilities for online services providers. That has forced Grab to suspend the ability of users to add value to their GrabPay since Oct. 16 as it works with the central bank to find a solution.

“Bank Indonesia is looking at the entire ecosystem and we are working with them closely because we know why it’s important,” Tan said.

Also Read: 

Grab confirms acquisition of Indonesian payment startup Kudo

Grab Indonesia to develop mobile payments, partner with fintech companies: Ridzki Kramadibrata

Singapore: Grab makes larger ecosystem play with Drive.ai and oBike deals

Bloomberg

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.