SINGAPORE - All Grab users in Malaysia will soon have to do a one-time selfie verification in order to use the app in the country to meet regulatory requirements.
This would be similar to what new Grab users in Singapore are already doing and a company spokesman said on Thursday (June 6) that Singaporean travellers would also have to comply with the Malaysian rule when using the app across the Causeway.
Grab, through an announcement on its Malaysian app and its website, informed users recently that the compulsory measure will be in place by July 12.
The website message read: "The selfie is for identity verification, safety, and may be used to assist the authorities when required. Grab ensures that your selfie and identity is secured and will not be shared with our driver-partners and merchants."
Grab added that explicit permission would be sought before any access to users' cameras, and that it might also have to request for another selfie for verification purposes if required to do so.
Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke had last July announced that as part of new regulations, passengers would have to upload valid identification card or passport details when they register for a ride-hailing account. He gave a year's grace to meet the requirements.
Grab adopted facial recognition technology to meet the new requirement, with first-time users required to submit a selfie of themselves before booking a ride.
The English-language The Star daily reported that the new selfie rule has already helped solve a robbery-cum-murder case involving a Grab driver.
Two suspects were nabbed in connection with the death of Mohd Hanafiee Jaafar, who was robbed and killed on the job late last month.
The incident resulted in drivers fearing post-midnight trips and avoiding areas deemed dangerous, The Star said.
In response to queries from The Straits Times, a Grab spokesman confirmed that Singaporeans using its app in Malaysia are also covered by the new regulations.
Within Singapore, Grab users who signed up before February this year did not have to go through selfie verification, with their identities verified by either their Facebook account or credit card details.
But new users signing up from February this year have had to submit selfies to successfully open their accounts.
The Grab spokesman said: "These are part of our ongoing efforts to ensure high safety and security standards on our platform for both our customers and driver-partners."
Singaporeans who use Grab during trips to Malaysia told ST that they did not mind submitting a selfie as long as it was used solely for verification purposes.
Undergraduate Melvin Koh, 23, who visits Malaysia about once every two months and uses Grab as his primary mode of transport there, said: "Drivers may judge and pick passengers based on how they look, so if it is not shared with the drivers then it is okay."
Wong Shi Hui, 25, who works in events management and visits Malaysia every three months, said: "It is good that measures are in place to protect drivers as well, selfies seem harmless enough if it can ensure a safe ride for everyone."