Grab raises $850M from Japanese investors to fuel financial services push

Ride-sharing operator has secured a total of $856 million from Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and TIS, and will use the funds to drive the expansion of its financial services across Southeast Asia.

Grab has snagged another $856 million from Japanese investors Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) and TIS, as the ride-sharing operator looks to expand its financial services offerings across Southeast Asia. The two partnership deals will see the companies jointly develop financial products and services as well as enhance digital payment platforms. 

The largest bank in Japan, MUFG would invest $706 million and co-develop "next-generation bespoke" financial services for Southeast ASia, said the partners in a joint statement Tuesday. Grab also would name the Japanese company and its partner banks in the region, including Indonesia's PT Bank Danamon, Thailand's Bank of Ayudhya, and the Philippines' Security Bank, as "First Choice Bank". 

Grab Financial Group's senior managing director Reuben Lai said the collaboration aimed to create financial services such as payments and micro financing to support underbanked customer segments in Southeast Asia. 

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The other $150 million in funds would come from Japanese network and systems integrator TIS, as part of an agreement to jointly develop payment technologies. The partnership also would look to enhance digital payment infrastructures in the region and Japan to drive greater adoption of cashless payment services, the companies said. 

Grab's president Ming Maa said: "Digital payments are taking off in Southeast Asia as it caters to a largely mobile yet underbanked population. We need to create better experiences to pay for daily transactions and are excited to have TIS as a strategic technology partner to further develop a secure digital payment infrastructure in the region."

In the past year, Grab's financial business unit had been beefing up its service portfolio to include consumer insurance and lending. 

It also announced its bid for a digital bank licence, alongside partner Singtel, in Singapore, where the ride-sharing operator and telco would target "digital-first" consumers and small and midsize businesses (SMBs). The partnership would lead to a joint entity, in which Grab would own a 60% stake.

Earlier this month, Grab also announced it had acquired Singapore-based robo-advisory startup Bento as part of efforts to include retail wealth management services via its mobile app. The merger would see Bento rebranded as GrabInvest and its products were expected to be integrated with the Grab app in Singapore within the first half of 2020. 

Commenting on the latest investment haul and partnerships, Ming said: "Ensuring greater access to affordable and accessible financial services and products is key to growing financial inclusion in Southeast Asia."

Just under a year ago in March 2019, Grab secured $1.46 billion in funds from Softbank Vision Fund, pushing its Series H round in excess of $4.5 billion. Other investors in this round included Toyota Motor, Oppenheimer Funds, Hyundai Motor Group, Booking Holdings, Microsoft, Ping An Capital, and Yamaha Motor.

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