Grab’s latest play is to become lender and insurer to Southeast Asia’s ‘middle economy’
Grab has revealed its latest move beyond ride-hailing and digital payments – a financial services venture targeting its driver network and other small businesses and “micro-entrepreneurs” across Southeast Asia’s emerging markets.
The company announced at Money 20/20 Asia in Singapore would offer micro-lending services through a new joint venture with Japanese consumer financing company Credit Saison, named Grab Financial Services Asia.
It will also offer insurance products, aimed initially at Grab drivers and customers, through a new partnership with property and casualty insurer Chubb.
Key to these new offerings is the large number of data points that Grab has collected from its ride-hailing and payments apps across the region. Grab can use this data to make credit and risk assessments – something that has proven difficult for financial services providers in a part of the world where the majority of the population remains unbanked.
Grab Financial Services Asia will initially focus on providing products to Grab’s drivers, online-to-offline agents, and GrabPay merchants, such as working capital loans and financing for smartphones, laptops, and durable goods.
The joint venture plans to offer credit scoring services to offer credit scoring services to banks and other financial institutions in the future.
GrabPay head Jason Thompson said in a press briefing following the announcement that making a foray into financial services was the next logical step for Grab. The company already has a loan book of US$737 million – built up through providing monetary assistance to drivers to hire vehicles, buy smartphones, and the like – with a 1.5 percent default rate among its lendees, he added.
The joint venture will be grouped together into a newly launched Grab unit called Grab Financial alongside the company’s existing digital payments business, GrabPay, and loyalty program Grab Rewards. The online-to-offline agents’ network it largely acquired through its purchase of Kudo last year will also fall under the Grab Financial umbrella.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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