For Grab, teaming up with established names is the way to go

Partnerships allow Grab to scale more quickly into new areas, says Mr Jerald Singh, its group product and design chief.
Partnerships allow Grab to scale more quickly into new areas, says Mr Jerald Singh, its group product and design chief.

Instead of offering as many services as possible or going it alone to build new functions on its app, ride-hailing service Grab has set its sights on leveraging partnerships to fulfil its "super app" ambitions.

Joining forces with established companies allows Grab to scale more quickly into new areas, its group head of product and design Jerald Singh told The Straits Times.

Last month, Grab added hotel reservation services Agoda and Booking.com, entertainment ticketing platform BookMyShow, and on-demand video-streaming service HOOQ to the app's ecosystem. These services will be available in Singapore by next month.

"The new services introduced recently are specially curated to meet top transactions and activities that our users engage in," said Mr Singh.

A case in point is its tie-up with Chinese healthcare services platform Ping An Good Doctor, which will bring online healthcare services to users later this year.

"In Indonesia, there is only one physician for nearly 5,000 people - significantly lower than high-income countries with up to three or four physicians per 1,000 people," said Mr Singh. "Efficient and timely healthcare solutions delivered digitally have the potential to transform the industry."

There is a strong value proposition to having a super app in South-east Asia, he said, as low-cost Android phones with limited storage are the "most common" smartphones in the region.

 
 

"However, this is one of the world's most diverse regions, so one size does not fit all," he added, noting that even as Grab can be used in eight countries, the services it offers vary, depending on where users launch their app. Many people remain outside the region's digital economy, so the potential is huge.

As Mr Singh noted, the company's longer-term goal includes fostering financial inclusion and providing better services to the growing middle class.

Grab offers around 60 services to customers, merchants and its partnering drivers in the region. Its app has been downloaded more than 144 million times in all.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 20, 2019, with the headline 'Teaming up with established names is the way to go'. Print Edition | Subscribe