Grab co-founders Anthony Tan, left, and Tan Hooi Ling. (B1 Photo/Paulus Nitbani)

Ride-Hailing App Grab Seeks Expansion After Raising $750m

BY :ARADHANA ARAVINDAN

SEPTEMBER 20, 2016

Jakarta. The Southeast Asian ride-hailing platform Grab has raised $750 million in equity financing in a funding round led by Japanese telecommunications giant SoftBank,  the company announced in a statement on Tuesday (20/09).

The funding round has increased Grab's total capital position to over $1 billion and put it among the best-capitalized internet and technology startups in the region.

Grab is one of the biggest and most frequently used transportation mobile platforms in Southeast Asia and offers private car (GrabCar), motorbike (GrabBike), taxi (GrabTaxi) and carpooling services in six countries and 31 cities in the region. It records on average 1.5 million bookings a day.

"Our vision is to drive Southeast Asia transportation forward and transform the region's mobile internet ecosystem. This largest funding, the largest in the history of Southeast Asia's consumer technology, strengthens our ability to pursue long term goals as we continue to build on our market leadership," Grab co-founder and chief executive, Anthony Tan, said in a statement.

He said the company sees a great growth opportunity in Indonesia, where the market for ride-hailing services alone is around $15 billion.

"I am confident in our technology, data science and machine learning platforms, which have continued to scale to support our bold ambitions in the region," Tan added.

Growth opportunities

Grab said it will leverage the $1 billion capital position to continue expanding its transportation services in Southeast Asia, home to 620 million people, which sees a rapid growth in the number of smartphone users and in the middle-income class, especially in Indonesia.

According to the company's statement, Grab will invest particularly in the countries with low banking and credit card penetration, where cashless payment options are limited.

Grab's chief executive said it saw tremendous growth over the past year and this round of funding shows the confidence investors have in its long term potentials in Southeast Asia.

"We are blessed to have great partners like SoftBank, many of whom have unparalleled track records of investing in leading internet businesses in emerging markets," he added.

Given the large market opportunity, Grab said it will continue to invest in Indonesia, the biggest market in Southeast Asia with over a third of the region's population. As of June, its GrabCar and GrabBike grew 250 times in one year. It expects to see the services continue to grow exponentially.

Grab will further expand its operations in Jakarta, where it believes its GrabCar, GrabBike, GrabTaxi and GrabFood (food delivery) services "are relevant and transformative."

The company is also going to develop non-cash payment method GrabPay. With 43 percent of the population without bank accounts, Southeast Asia remains a largely cash-based transaction economy, with room to develop better mobile payment options.

In Indonesia, Grab has partnered with Bank Mandiri, the largest lender by size of assets, to offer a mobile wallet service, and with the Lippo Group, with whom it is implementing an e-money payment platform that will enable users to use GrabPay at Lippo's department stores, hypermarkets, cinemas, restaurants, cafes and online shops.

Grab has also partnered with Citi to enable cardholders to use Citibank points to pay for Grab rides.

Grab is going to continue to invest in data science and machine learning capabilities to improve its services. It says it hires top international talents to strengthen the research and development centers in Singapore, Beijing and Seattle, and to develop innovative features like Flash that pools cars and taxis, improve back-end routing capabilities, and build its proprietary point of interest mapping database..

Over 21 million users

Grab claims that since its last funding round in August last year, the number of its drivers and users has increased four times. The application has been downloaded onto over 21 million mobile devices and users have access to more than 400,000 drivers in Southeast Asia.

Grab operates in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Grab and the Jakarta Globe are affiliated through the Lippo Group.

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