Ride-hailing operator Grab extended its payment platform to brick-and-mortar merchants for the first time yesterday, as it sought to leverage its four-million app downloads to give it an edge in an increasingly congested cashless payment landscape.
Grab believes that the significant pool of users of its transport services is one of its key strengths.
"What differentiates us (from other e-payment solutions) is that people are driving the adoption. We've already got four million downloads (of the Grab app) in a country of 5.6 million people," said Mr Jason Thompson, managing director of GrabPay South-east Asia.
He added: "We're already used consistently by the people here, and we're already trusted, so I think we have an advantage there."
Its first step into the market is a small one - with GrabPay being accepted at just 25 restaurants and hawker stalls in the Central Business District and the Bishan area.
But it said that by year end, about 1,000 merchants islandwide are expected to offer GrabPay. The company says it wants to encourage the more than 20,000 merchants in Singapore who mainly or only accept cash as payment to get on board.
To use GrabPay to buy food, a Grab app user can scan a merchant's QR code and key in the amount that he wants to pay, and swipe an icon to confirm the transaction.
25 Number of restaurants and hawker stalls in the Central Business District and the Bishan area where GrabPay is being accepted from yesterday.
1,000 Number of merchants islandwide that are expected to offer GrabPay by the end of the year.
There is currently no transaction cost when merchants sign up with GrabPay though this will be reviewed six months later.
Grab is joining an e-payment race teeming with competitors.
Since Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made a call for the integration and simplification of such systems in his National Day Rally speech, e-payment stalwart Nets has launched its NetsPay app, China-based AliPay has expanded its footprint here and even gaming tech firm Razer has made clear its ambitions to enter the market.
Ms Gloria Soo, 45, owner of EnerGI Food stall, which has been accepting GrabPay payments on a trial basis since last month, said: "I would prefer for more people to use GrabPay than cash, because it is more secure. It is also easy to teach someone new how to accept payment from GrabPay."
This is the first time that GrabPay can be used to pay merchants in South-east Asia. The app is currently available for ride booking in seven countries in the region.
Mr Thompson said the ambition is for GrabPay to be the No. 1 e-wallet platform in the region, and to help small businesses and those still using cash to adopt the platform.
Marketing manager at digital performance management firm Dynatrace Asia Pacific Jerry Tan said that GrabPay may stand a chance even in the crowded space.
He said: "For different platforms to differentiate themselves, user experience is key. With four million downloads, Grab has shown that its app's performance is good and it is intuitive to use.
"Further, they also have good tie-ups and promotions with local merchants from time to time - loyalty rewards is definitely something that would attract more users."