Grab must be open to same competition that allowed it to succeed

After the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) found that the Grab-Uber deal was anti-competitive, Grab accused the commission of going against the country's pro-innovation and pro-business regulations (Grab to challenge proposed anti-competitive ruling over its deal with Uber; July 5).

While Grab said the CCCS adopted a "narrow approach in defining competition" and that the company is "not the only player in the market", it owns 85 per cent of the ride-hailing segment of the market following its acquisition of Uber's regional operations.

Monopolistic companies have an interest in pretending that they face stiff competition in order to avoid scrutiny and regulation.

The CCCS report highlights evidence of the negative outcomes of Grab's near-monopoly, such as complaints over decreasing service quality and increasing fares.

Serious competition would have kept the company in check.

In the absence of such competition, regulators serve as the last line of defence for average consumers.

In the past, Grab's chief executive Anthony Tan proudly flew the underdog flag and likened his company's competition with Uber to the biblical battle between David and Goliath. With Uber's exit, Grab has become the new Goliath in town...
Hence, the CCCS is right to pursue measures that enable the new underdogs to compete and give more options to consumers.

In the past, Grab's chief executive Anthony Tan proudly flew the underdog flag and likened his company's competition with Uber to the biblical battle between David and Goliath.

With Uber's exit, Grab has become the new Goliath in town.

It has also built a fortress of exclusivity agreements to cripple new entrants.

Hence, the CCCS is right to pursue measures that enable the new underdogs to compete and give more options to consumers.

Mr Tan previously said that Grab's competition with Uber made the company stronger.

Grab's customers hope that he remains open to the same competition that pushed his company to improve.

Denis Edward

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2018, with the headline 'Grab must be open to same competition that allowed it to succeed'. Print Edition | Subscribe