Grab drives up research efforts with new India, Vietnam labs

Ride-sharing operator opens two R&D facilities in Bangalore and Ho Chi Minh City, with plans for 800 new hires over two years across its six research centres worldwide, including Singapore and Beijing.

Ride-sharing operator Grab has unveiled two new research facilities in Bangalore and Ho Chi Minh City, as well as plans to add more than 800 jobs across six of such centres worldwide over two years.

The new hires would support four other R&D sites including Singapore, Beijing, Jakarta, and Seattle, the company said in a statement Wednesday. Its research efforts would focus on building out Grab's transport platform and proprietary payment system, which supported different services that had been rolled out across Southeast Asia. These included pre-booking bus service GrabShuttle and commercial carpooling service GrabShare.

The ride-sharing company currently had operations in 39 cities in the region, with a network of more than 710,000 drivers. Its mobile app clocked more than 36 million downloads, said Grab.

Its research facilities each specialised in various skillsets such as machine learning, predictive data analytics, mobile, and user experience software development.

The Bangalore site would employ up to 200 engineers focusing on new payment tools for the company's digital payment platform, GrabPay. The goal was to improve access to mobile payments across Southeast Asia as well as "deepen financial inclusion" in a region where several markets still fell short on credit card ownership. The Ho Chi Minh City centre would focus on in-app user experience.

In addition to the two new research facilities, Grab said it was moving into larger offices in Seattle and Singapore, the latter of which housed the company's largest R&D centre focusing on app development and new services.

Grab's co-founder Tan Hooi Ling said: "Southeast Asia is developing at a breakneck pace and we have an unprecedented opportunity to deliver a platform that caters to the region's mobile-first environment and infrastructural needs. Addressing such challenges requires a combination of deep local understanding and best-in-class engineering."

She added that the company focused on product localisation to better support consumers in their local markets.

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