Ming Maa's three-pronged plan for Grab in 2021: Last-mile logistics, fintech, merchant services

Ming Maa's three-pronged plan for Grab in 2021: Last-mile logistics, fintech, merchant services

Grab's Ming Maa.

It’s full steam ahead for Southeast Asian super app Grab, even as it begins to round off an eventful year that’s both propelled and devastated tech companies of all kinds across the world.

Grab itself has not emerged from the pandemic unscathed. Ride-hailing, long deemed a core part of the decacorn’s business, took a big hit with the spread of COVID-19 in Southeast Asia, even as food delivery turned en vogue overnight. Manpower strength was trimmed by 5 per cent to keep a lid on costs. ‘Sustainable growth, not growth without measure’, became the catchphrase of 2020. 

But today, towards the end of the year, it sounds like the worst is nearly over. 

Speaking at DealStreetAsia’s Asia PE-VC Summit 2020 on Tuesday, Grab’s president Ming Maa shared that the Southeast Asian super app is now generating over 95 per cent of pre-COVID revenues, with deliveries contributing more than half of the total. 

Maa outlined three key focuses for Grab in 2021: last-mile logistics, fintech, and merchant services. Gearing up across these fronts will help solidify Grab’s super app strategy to be what Maa calls the “platform of choice” in Southeast Asia. It’s something Maa confidently believes Grab already is today.

“I think the reason that we’re becoming this platform of choice is really because of the scale of the platform that we’ve built. The customer reach, our ability to go direct to customers, and having the absolute lowest last-mile cost for deliveries is very, very important. And frankly, a payment solution that reaches more consumers than any other. All of that combined together creates a great partnership opportunity with many global companies,” shared Ming Maa over the live webinar.

But that effectively re-draws battleground lines for Grab in Southeast Asia. Two years ago, Grab was fighting tooth and nail for market share with two ride-hailing heavyweights, Uber and Gojek. Moving ahead, Grab’s entrance into e-commerce, logistics, and fintech will see it colliding with winning unicorns that occupy these verticals — Shopee, and Tokopedia, to name just two. 

“I do believe that competition will increase quite a bit over time. We’re seeing a lot of digital platforms start to focus on local services, like transportation, like food delivery because what’s abundantly clear is just how attractive these markets can be, and what value we can provide to our customers,” shared Maa. 

Competition isn’t just healthy. It’s critical, added Maa. “It’s really important to have competition and ensure that our customers have a choice. That’s a very important (aspect) for a market to develop in the right way.”

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