GrabTaxi, the Singapore-based ride-hailing platform, is now just ‘Grab’ in a brand identity makeover to better reflect its expanding range of services.
The ride-hailing platform, founded by Anthony Tan and Tan Hooi Ling, started out in 2012 as a taxi-booking mobile app. It now offers private car services (GrabCar), motorcycle taxis (GrabBike), social carpooling (GrabHitch) and last mile delivery (GrabExpress).
Explaining the rationale behind the rebranding exercise, Tan, who serves as CEO, said: “We’ve grown over the years – and we’re now much more than a taxi app. This new brand is an important evolution that represents our goal to serve our customers. We are not only providing passengers with a transport service, we are saving them time and ensuring they have a safe ride.”
Their latest investment was $350 million raised from Coatue Management LLC, China Investment Corp., GGV Capital and Didi Kuaidi, bringing total equity financing raised to more than $700 million. Other investors including Japan’s SoftBank Corp. and Singapore’s Vertex Venture Holdings, possibly pushing its valuation past the $1 billion “unicorn” mark.
Commenting on their investors, Anthony Tan shared: “Our investors are very long-term investors. To them, in the end, it’s about how to build the greatest tech company out of Southeast Asia.”
Anthony Tan also disclosed that certain verticals in which they operated were expected to break even, though decline to disclose financial terms, only saying that “…as long as our investors are smiling, we’re happy”. In relation to possible exits, he added, “While an IPO is always an option, but for us, it’s important to stay focused, execute and out-serve the customers.”
Commenting on queries regarding regulatory restrictions and concerns across various countries, Anthony Tan maintained that they collaborated with government regulators on the legislation pipeline and working with regulators in a consultative manner. “The government wants to do what is right for the people,” he said, adding, they were working with regulators to overcome the gap between regulations and technology.
New features loaded on app
It launched a host of new features as part of the re-branding exercise, significantly enhancing the user experience (UX) aspect of it with features like personalised locations, automated retries, real-time live driver tracking and a simplified registration process. A new feature, Flash, also consolidates the taxi and GrabCar summoning into a single feature, enabling passengers to find the nearest vehicle across both services.
Additionally, Grab has added multiple credit card support in the form of GrabPay, which will be available regionally by the end of the year and is being rolled out to Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines and Malaysia in the coming weeks.
As part of the re-branding, a new feature GrabWork has been added to allow passengers commuting for work purposes to track work-related expenses. Business professionals can download these receipts into a consolidated statement, with companies wishing to make use of this option able to subscribe to it.
When asked about the possibility of their own virtual currency as an integrated payments options, given its operations across various countries, Joel Yarbrough, Grab’s head of product, told DEALSTREETASIA: “I think what we’re trying to do with payments is really give most people options that represent how they want to pay.So our original option was cash obviously, which is the number one payment option in Southeast Asia. Then we went to cards, and there are a lot of cards in Singapore, etc.”
“And then now we’re going to keep working on a funnel, providing things that can make the experience better.”At this point, any funding [payment] source is something that is on the table, as long as its something that a lot of users want to use, that works well for the kind of business we’re in,” Yarbrough added.
Grabbing the SouthEast Asian Market
Since mid-2015, Grab claims to have experienced 35 per cent average monthly growth in GrabCar rides and a 75 per cent average monthly growth in GrabBike rides across the region. Commenting on this, Tan added, “Grab aims to make transportation accessible to everyone in Southeast Asia. We have set the benchmark in the industry, with the most number of transport services that cater to all price points, all available in one app.”
It has 200,000 drivers on its network and in excess of 11 million mobile downloads, claiming that it facilitates 1.5 million bookings daily through its platform. Indonesia represents their most rapidly growing market.
It currently operates across six countries in Southeast Asia, covering 28 cities. Southeast Asia has a population of 620 million, larger than the population of either the European Union or North America. This includes 12 mega cities with population in excess of 2 million people, as well as four cities with population larger than New York City. This includes metropolitan regions like Greater Jakarta and Greater Manila.
This growth reflects the larger trend of Southeast Asia’s growing middle class, which is expected to double by 2020 to 400 million people, compared to China’s projected figure of 600 million. This is in conjunction with the emergence of online to offline (O2O) services and smartphone penetration, which is expected to double in five years and exceed 100 per cent in countries like Malaysia and Singapore.