The popularity of ride-hailing companies in South-east Asia has caught on among venture capitalists with investments racing in at high speeds.
Singapore-based Grab was the top recipient of venture capital (VC) investment in the world for the first quarter with US$2.5 billion (S$3.3 billion) raised, according to KPMG yesterday.
Grab's fund injection propelled Singapore to a record US$2.68 billion in VC investment across 23 deals in the three months to March 31, the most raised by local start-ups in one quarter since at least 2010, the earliest year of data in the report.
"It is testament to the maturing of Singapore's ecosystem that a business such as Grab could be built here to tackle the regional market," said Mr Chia Tek Yew, KPMG Singapore's head of financial services advisory.
Other local deals in the quarter pale by comparison. Logistics firm Ninja Van was next at US$87 million, then software solutions provider Capillary Technologies at US$20 million.
Rounding out the top five here were game developer Virtuos, which recently moved its base from Shanghai to Singapore, at US$15 million, and fashion brand Love, Bonito at US$13 million.
The other big funding in the region was at Grab's rival, Indonesian-based Go-Jek. It raised US$1.5 billion, making it the fourth-largest VC recipient in the world for the first quarter.
KPMG said: "South-east Asia has been identified as a major target for VC investment because of its relatively high population and low market penetration rates in sectors deemed saturated in other global markets."
Ride-hailing giants Lyft and Uber were second and fifth respectively. This meant that four of the top five VC recipients were in the ride-hailing sector.
Mr Chia said: "The ride-hailing industry is moving into a consolidation stage, where key players are emerging in each market."
"The likelihood of these key players attracting more VC investments could possibly stem from the adjacent businesses they are expanding into, such as food delivery and payment platforms."