Singapore ride-hailing giant Grab held talks to acquire payments provider 2C2P and was turned down, according to sources, a sign of the ambitions South-east Asia's most valuable start-up has in financial services.
Grab was one of multiple possible bidders interested in 2C2P with preliminary offers ranging up to about $200 million, said the people, asking not to be identified because the information is private. The payments start-up, also based in Singapore, decided instead to raise additional capital to keep expanding as an independent company, they said.
Grab's move underscores the growing interest in Asia's burgeoning mobile payments market as more consumers move online to shop, order meals and book flight tickets and hotel rooms.
Driven by the proliferation of new technologies and start-ups, the region's financial services are undergoing a transformation, while governments across South-east Asia are pushing ahead with efforts to create cashless economies.
Representatives for Grab and 2C2P declined to comment.
Grab, founded in 2012 by Mr Anthony Tan and Ms Tan Hooi Ling, is valued at $14 billion, according to CB Insights. To live up to that lofty figure, the company is expanding beyond ride-hailing with ambitions to create an all-in-one "super app" in South-east Asia, similar to Tencent Holdings' WeChat for China. Its GrabPay service allows consumers to pick up the tab for rides and order food, and it is expanding into lending and insurance. Last year, it debuted a financial technology platform and launched Grab Ventures to fund promising start-ups.
Grab is also said to be considering applying for a digital banking licence if Singapore's regulator allows it.
2C2P was founded in Bangkok in 2003 by Mr Aung Kyaw Moe, a Myanmar-born computer programmer. The company counts Facebook, Apple, airlines and online marketplaces among its 350 large customers.
2C2P helps companies such as Thai Airways, Agoda, Traveloka, Lazada, Zara and Central Online Shopping accept different types of payments online from South-east Asian customers.
The company's revenue grew 74 per cent to $52 million last year, after more than doubling in 2017, according to its filing with Singapore's regulator.