Singapore’s Grab Rolls Out Micro-Investments, Consumer Loans to Users

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Grab Holdings Inc. is stepping up its range of financial service offerings with a slew of new products aimed at consumers who already use its ride-hailing and food delivery app.

Grab Financial Group, a unit of the Singapore-based company, will roll out a micro-investment product called AutoInvest that allows users to set aside as little as a dollar into third-party funds via Grab’s app. It will also offer consumer loans, letting users borrow money from Grab’s bank partners.

Competition in digital financial services is heating up in Southeast Asia, as regional tech giants such as Sea Ltd., Grab and Gojek see opportunities to leverage their in-app payments to tap the potentially lucrative market. Meanwhile, traditional banks like DBS Group Holdings Ltd. are also trying to woo young customers with hassle-free services and new technologies.

Reuben Lai, senior managing director of Grab Financial, said the company has an advantage over its rivals because it has more “touch points” as its millions of customers already use the app to hail rides and order meals. Grab’s customer acquisition costs are a “fraction” of those at traditional banks, letting the company cross-sell financial products more easily, he said.

“We will focus on what we are good at; our strength is customer engagement, acquiring customers, creating tools and products,” Lai said in a video interview Tuesday. “If I look across the region, there aren’t that many ecosystems that touch everyday life of consumers.”

The move comes a year after Grab began providing financial services to merchants, including insurance and small-business loans. The company is broadening its offerings to consumers with products including fixed-income funds from Fullerton Fund Management and UOB Asset Management. Other products include buy-now-pay-later payment plans for select e-commerce websites.

Grab is also bidding for a wider digital banking license with Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. as it looks to build a regional financial services firm.

“We are clearly not looking for just Singapore,” he said. “This is just a stepping stone for us to launch it across the region.”

Gojek Gets Into Online Investments With Mobile Gold Platform

The bricks and mortar banks aren’t standing still. DBS, the region’s biggest bank, last month introduced facial-recognition technology to add new customers. Other banks including Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. have used government-run digital facilities such as SingPass and MyInfo for account opening and identification to improve their due-diligence processes.

Grab was founded in 2012 by co-founder Anthony Tan and Hooi Ling Tan as a taxi-hailing service. It has raised more than $10 billion from investors including SoftBank Group Corp., as well as financial institutions including Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. and Kasikornbank Pcl.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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