Euromoney, March 16 2018
Alibaba and Tencent have demonstrated that the world of payments is no longer the exclusive territory of banks. Their model is now gaining traction in southeast Asia, where a Singapore-based, Indonesia-focused transport platform and a Malaysian budget airline announced plans to move into financial services within three days of one another.
Singapore’s Grab and Malaysia’s AirAsia announced the launch of Grab Financial and BigPay respectively, joining Indonesia’s motorbike-based ride-hailing firm Go-Jek, which acquired three local fintech firms in December and combined them into its Go-Pay brand.
All three institutions made landmark presentations at the Money 20/20 conference in Singapore this week.
Grab’s move is not surprising, and indeed Euromoney predicted it in 2016, since the Singapore-based ride-hailing service has talked for at least two years about the lack of a universal payments platform in southeast Asia and has had a payments business through its GrabPay brand throughout.
It was already partnered with Bank Mandiri in Indonesia, Lippo Group, Alipay and Citi, the latter in a scheme allowing card customers to burn loyalty points in exchange for taxis.
However, the scale of Grab Financial at launch is impressive.
In addition to the existing payments, loyalty rewards and agent network services, it includes a joint venture with Japan’s consumer financing company Credit Saison to provide loans to unbanked individuals, micro-entrepreneurs and small businesses, called Grab Financial Services Asia; and a partnership with Chubb to provide in-app insurance, initially for Grab’s 2.6 million driver partners.
“I’ll be honest, a year ago I didn’t think I’d see a slide with Credit Saison and Grab on it,” says Jason Thompson, managing director, GrabPay southeast Asia.