Sin­ga­pore’s Grab rolls out mi­cro-in­vest­ments and con­sumer loans to users

The Star Malaysia - StarBiz - - Foreign News -

SIN­GA­PORE: 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 yes­ter­day. “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 li­cence 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.”

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. — Bloomberg

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