Southeast Asia’s leading taxi mobile app, GrabTaxi, has received its latest round of funding worth $65 million to make deeper inroads into South East Asia. The series C round funding was led by new investor US-based Tiger Global Management, joined by another new investor Hillhouse Capital Management and existing investors GGV Capital, Vertex Venture Holdings and Qunar.
Cheryl Goh, Regional Marketing Head, Grab Taxi told DealStreetAsia that further expansion plans and service improvements GrabTaxi had in mind will establish the app’s pole position. “One way we will be doing this is by expanding into Tier 2 cities like our most recent expansion to Davao in the Philippines and Penang in Malaysia. Secondly, we will be expanding our driver retention programs in each market to reward existing drivers to include education funds in Malaysia, insurance in Singapore and enhancing our existing rewards and incentive scheme,” Goh said.
GrabTaxi will also be investing in local talent in each market for its internal expansion.
The Malaysia-based taxi app developer said it has raised a total of $90 million in funds over the past 12-months, where the first two rounds of funds had reportedly amounted to $25 million. The estimated sum of its third and latest round of funds is a whopping $65 million.
The company declined to comment on how much of its previous funds raised were already utilized.
With more funding, the taxi app appears ready for a fierce fight in light of the increasing competition in the regional taxi app industry, with Uber being the latest to enter the territory.
Improvement of services’ initiatives will include programs for the drivers in the Malaysia market. The company plans an educational fund with programs aimed at improving the lives of their taxi drivers and their families – such as courses on language and soft skills, sponsorship packages and donations.
GrabTaxi is known as MyTeksi in its home base. These efforts will extend to families of MyTeksi drivers through various recreational and social activities. One of the initiatives is of vehicle refurbishment where MyTeksi will assist taxi drivers to refurbish their car seats, interiors, and so on to enhance the passenger experience.
Elsewhere, GrabTaxi chief executive officer Anthony Tan was quoted saying GrabTaxi will announce a new city expansion before the end of this month. GrabTaxi is expect to continue expansion of its services in the region where it is now in 16 cities across Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia.
The GrabTaxi app has been downloaded more than 2.1 million times, with 400,000 monthly active users connected to a network of more than 50,000 drivers. Just half a year ago, it had 1.2 million downloads and 250,000 monthly users.
GrabTaxi’s closest competitor EasyTaxi, raised $40 million in its latest series D funding round. The two app startups are in a neck-and-neck rivalry across Southeast Asia.
American private car service app Uber is the latest notable competitor in this region, introducing its premium UberBlack and cheaper UberX services. The app’s presence has been deemed a direct threat to local taxi industry as it has its own pool of drivers.
Regarding tougher competition, Goh said GrabTaxi would be glad if all industry players brought a positive impact upon the industry within the regulatory framework to benefit passengers and drivers. “Any good company is well aware that it doesn’t and can’t exist in a vacuum. This is especially so when an establishment is operating across boundaries which has different set of rules and regulations,“ said Goh.
“With this in mind, GrabTaxi will continue to focus on our own growth and imprint on Southeast Asia. With this funding aimed specifically at improving the service standards of drivers, we believe the effect will definitely cascade down to passengers having a much more enjoyable taxi ride,” she added.