Singapore soon to be Grab's largest cashless payments market

This article is more than 12 months old

Singapore is likely to soon become Grab's largest market in terms of cashless payments, according to company president Ming Maa yesterday. The ride-hailing firm is turning its sights on the finance industry.

Mr Maa told a forum yesterday: "Singaporeans recognise the value of cashless payments, they are used to using Nets, to using cashless payments for taxis."

There has been a concerted effort to push payment innovation here, with systems such as the recently introduced PayNow, which allows users to transfer money to one another using mobile phone or identity card numbers.

Experts have noted that Singapore still remains largely a cash-based economy as there is easy access to cash and new systems take time to catch on.

Despite these factors, Mr Maa is confident that Singapore will lead the region in mobile and cashless payments.

Apart from the tight race to the top in the ride-hailing space across South-east Asia, Grab has set its sights on disrupting the financial services industry.

"Payments and financial services will be important for us in the next five years. If we're able to replace cash with any mobile solution that is much more efficient and saves money for the consumer and driver, everyone will be happy," added Mr Maa, who was speaking at the Asian Venture Capital Journal Private Equity & Venture Forum at The Westin Singapore.

The firm has now placed a time frame on that ambitious goal as it works on making GrabPay more attractive.

The idea is to become a regional mobile wallet and payments service, Bloomberg noted last month.

Mr Maa said GrabPay is "the largest global payment system across this region".

Grab has about 50 million customers on its platform, he added, with a large proportion on the payment system. Other plans reportedly include loans, electronic money transfer and money-market funds.

Mr Maa also noted that consumers need a strong reason to start using mobile payments.

He noted that Apple Pay and Android Pay have yet to flourish because they lack such attraction, despite their ubiquity.

"What we found is in... China and India, transportation and ride-sharing has always been one of the largest reasons for mobile payments because of how frequent that engagement model is. The more you drive engagement, the more frequent the behaviour, the more you convert the consumer from cash," he added.

Mr Maa said his firm is listening to the needs of its consumers. "What we hear from our customers and drivers are: The need for better financing, access to modern banking services that they can't typically get. Everything we do is to optimise the experience and service..."