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Grab grows financial inclusion and its payments impact across Southeast Asia
Grab’s key objectives going forward include driving increased acceptance of e-wallets, adding more big brand names to the rewards programme, and developing a lower-cost payments infrastructure.

January 09, 2019 | Chris Kapfer
  • Grab is rapidly moving towards its goal of offering its e-wallet cross-border to support financial inclusion across ASEAN
  • It is partnering with banks to increase its reach, adding 3 million merchant locations via a partnership in Thailand  
  • While ubiquity and interoperability remain challenging, new solutions offer opportunities

“This year we announced we wanted to solve the issue of financial inclusion, to give consumers and merchants the ability to improve their economic reality,” said Grab senior managing director Reuben Lai. “We’ve been working hard on this big problem statement.”  To solve it, Lai explained, Grab intends to use partnerships and a common wallet across ASEAN,   

Grab started with an app for transport, food delivery and express delivery, and with QR codes for offline purchases, Lai explained. It has since used a combination of services developed internally and partnerships to move towards offering a more seamless payments experience for consumers and merchants alike.

For consumers, Lai said, Grab offers “more services that they can pay with on our platform, making it easy for them to pay, and making it more rewarding. This allows us to start piecing together the puzzle of having a common wallet across ASEAN.” On the merchant side, which includes agents and drivers, Grab offers working capital loans so they can expand their businesses, microinsurance so they can protect their income, and better engagement with consumers through insights that Grab generates from its vast trove of data.  

Lai said key objectives going forward include driving increased acceptance of e-wallets, adding more big brand names to the rewards programme, and developing a lower-cost payments infrastructure, “We are trying to bring in the middle-forty consumers,” Lai said, with costs as low as possible. “They have been fragmented, expensive for banks to serve. Being cost-conscious is ...

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Keywords: Financial Technology, Payments, Data, Microinsurance, E-wallets, Cashless