Grab not fazed by competition in ride-hailing market
Ride-hailing platform Grab's Singapore boss says his company has ambitious goals
Cabbies plying the roads have been given a fresh start this year.
Trans-Cab drivers who are one-man operators have had their daily rents slashed since the start of the year.
Also introduced from last Sunday were changes to the taxi availability framework.
The 250km minimum daily mileage has been scrapped, and taxi operators no longer have to ensure that cabs ply the roads during the shoulder peak period of between 6am and 7am and between 11pm and midnight.
Both changes are seen as levelling the playing field between taxi and ride-hailing services.
Head of Grab Singapore Lim Kell Jay, 32, thinks it spells good news for the industry.
"This updated framework is a testament to the successes we have seen with our GrabTaxi business," he told The New Paper.
These changes come three years and three months after Grab first broke into Singapore's market. Today, Grab is one of the dominant ride-hailing platforms.
Valued at US$1.6 billion ($2.3 billion) by Fortune magazine, it competes with Uber, a US$69-billion behemoth.
But don't call Grab an underdog. Mr Lim said: "It is all relative. Our competition may have raised money globally, but how much are they going to allocate to this part of the world?
"I think we've raised quite a bit for this part of the world. We're not by any means in an underdog position."
Every dollar will be put to good use, he emphasised.
Mr Lim said: "With the capabilities that we have built, especially around data, we are able to make much smarter decisions."
The company operates in six countries, including Singapore. Here, it offers four ride options: cab-hailing service GrabTaxi, private car-hailing service GrabCar, social carpooling service GrabHitch, and most recently, commercial carpooling service GrabShare.
In April 2015, it launched a US$100 million research and development centre - a 4,500 sq ft centre at Cecil Street that can accommodate more than 200 engineers and data analysts. It has nearly 150 job openings, including for data scientists and engineers.
This year, Grab will focus on the area of payment - think GrabPay, credits and cashless payment methods (such as AliPay).
When asked if there will be more options rolled out on the platform going forward, Mr Lim was coy. He said: "If you look at how we have evolved, almost every year we have (added) a new service...
"And we'll continue to do that because we have an ambitious goal, to make point-to-point transport extremely reliable.
"Not only that, we want to get you a ride within three minutes."
So how far away is Grab from that three-minute target?
Said Mr Lim: "If you talk about getting a car to you in three minutes, almost every car on the road needs to be part of the Grab platform...
"We won't stop until we get every single vehicle in Singapore on the Grab platform."