Southeast Asian ride-hailing app Grab is pushing further into payments through the launch of a prepaid Mastercard card.
Grab will issue both virtual and physical prepaid cards directly from its app. Customers can then top up their cards with cash at the firm's network of eight million 'micro-entrepreneurs' to spend at any merchant in the world, online and offline, that accepts Mastercard.
Grab, which acquired Uber's South East Asian business earlier this year, claims more than 110 million downloads for its app.
The firm has been progressively developing its capabilities in financial services, acquiring Indonesian e-commerce company Kudo in April 2017 and launching a P2P mobile wallet in November. In March the firm set up a dedicated financial services unit and outlined plans to start offering micro-loans and insurance products and has also teamed up with Malaysia's biggest bank, Maybank, to drive adoption of its new mobile wallet.
The Mastercard agreement signifies a new phase. The company claims that its clout, plus Mastercard's three million-strong network of merchant sites, means the partnership can help reach millions of the region's unbanked people.
Reuben Lai, senior MD, Grab Financial, says: "This partnership goes beyond Grab issuing prepaid cards and is a game-changer for Southeast Asia. We are the first e-wallet at scale from our region to be accepted worldwide. Not only does this solidify Grab’s position as Southeast Asia’s undisputed fintech leader, but it also enables the region’s 400 million unbanked and underserved consumers to buy goods and services online. Something that was previously limited to the less than 10% of Southeast Asians with a credit card."