Grab, Uber’s biggest rival in Southeast Asia, has just completed a billion taxi rides. The ride-hailing company reached the milestone in the last week of October with 66 concurrent trips across its seven markets, it announced in a blog post. Grab operates in over 140 cities in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, and Myanmar. Earlier this year, reports emerged that it was planning to launch in India too, when a job listing was spotted. Grab is also said to be setting up an R&D center in Bengaluru.
While globally Uber has completed over five billion rides, Southeast Asia has been a frontier it is yet to conquer. And its fiercest rival has been Grab, which started operations in 2012. Backed by deep-pocketed investors including Didi Chuxing (which incidentally pushed Uber out of China), and SoftBank (which interestingly has invested in Uber too), Grab has recorded unprecedented growth in the region. It has also forayed into payments with its GrabPay service that supports card transactions as well as peer-to-peer payments. It is reaching out to offline merchants in Singapore, and plans to take the service to other markets as well. ALSO READ: Grab raises $2 billion from SoftBank and Didi Chuxing: Report
“We’ve been talking and executing on our plan but [this] is a significant milestone for making GrabPay truly a cash replacement. If I leave my wallet at home, I can still pay for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In time I’ll be able to buy goods like hardware or groceries using GrabPay,” Grab co-founder Hooi Ling Tan told TechCrunch in a recent interview. Grab is not only Southeast Asia’s most valuable tech firm at $6 billion, but also armed with plenty of cash to expand in the world’s most happening payments market, i.e. India, that has witnessed action from several international players lately. ALSO READ: Uber-rival Grab to set up R&D center in Bangalore, hire 200 engineers
But Grab’s core service is taxi aggregation. It claims to have over two million drivers, and more than 68 million app downloads. Its rising footprint in Southeast Asia gives investors the belief that it can comfortably lead Uber in the region in the time to come. “Starting with transport, Grab is establishing a clear leadership in Southeast Asia’s internet economy based on its market position, superior technology, and truly local insight,” Cheng Wei, founder and CEO of Didi, said in a prior statement. A market study commissioned by Grab revealed that it owned 71 percent of the private car market in Southeast Asia. Uber needs to buck up!