Grab to hire 350 people in Singapore to deliver online financial services in South-east Asia

The new hiring drive was announced on Thursday (Feb 25).
The new hiring drive was announced on Thursday (Feb 25).PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Tech company Grab will be hiring about 350 more employees here this year to help it deliver online financial services in South-east Asia.

The new hires will also develop the Singapore ride hailing operator's digital banking business and support micro enterprises in their digital transformation.

Grab is looking at those with skills in artificial intelligence (AI), cyber security, data science, software engineering, as well as product management and design.

They are expected to be involved in projects to improve the ability of merchants to offer better and tailored products to their customers.

These employees will also work to improve the user experience of the GrabMerchant mobile app, which helps companies optimise their operations, manage sales as well as handle food and store orders and deliveries.

Of the 350 new hires, about 200 will be for the digital bank business that a Grab-Singtel consortium announced in December it would hire.

The consortium was one of two successful applicants for a digital full bank licence here. It plans to formally launch the digital bank in early 2022.

While Grab was not able to say how many of the 350 new job positions will go to Singaporeans, a spokesman said that "we will put in all efforts to attract and consider Singaporeans for job positions on merit".

The new hiring drive was announced on Thursday (Feb 25) at the signing of a Memorandum of Intent (MOI) between Grab, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the Government's Digital Industry Singapore (DISG). The event was held at at Grab’s Marine One office.

DISG is the joint office of the Economic Development Board, Enterprise Singapore and IMDA that engages with the technology sector.

Under the MOI, Grab will support Singapore's tech ecosystem through the development of the company's tech talent and research and development capabilities here.

The company will work with IMDA and DISG to grow its core product and engineering teams' capabilities through the support of talent development initiatives such as IMDA’s TechSkills Accelerator training programmes.

The talent development programmes seek to enhance the deep technical skills of experienced professionals, and provide hands-on training opportunities to individuals keen to explore roles in the tech sector, said Grab and IMDA in a joint statement.

Besides tech roles, Grab's 350 new hires in Singapore will also include those in finance, operations, legal, public affairs and business development fields.

Ms Tan Hooi-Ling, Grab's co-founder, said that despite Covid-19's challenges, the tech industry continues to hold promise for new and renewed opportunities for talent.

"We are building products that positively impact millions across South-east Asia, and we want to continue deepening our R&D (research and development) capabilities and push the boundaries of innovation, right here at our strategic base," she said.

Ms Tan added that the company’s new headquarters in the one-north business district in Buona Vista is slated to open this year. 

It was slated to open in 2020 but the premise’s completion was delayed by several months.

Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran, who witnessed the MOI signing on Thursday, said that the Government wants to ensure “that there is a wide range of digital solutions available, which help our enterprises leverage the technology to strengthen their competitiveness and grow, both in Singapore and beyond”.

He added that partnering with companies like Grab, which offers solutions that companies like food vendors need, “creates greater momentum in that effort”.

IMDA chief executive Lew Chuen Hong said that the Government's partnership with Grab can help build Singapore's local talent in product development and grow the country as a base for high-end R&D in tech.

"To secure our digital future, Singapore must be the place where companies choose to build unique digital products that cater for global markets. This is the only way that Singapore can sustainably capture value and differentiate ourselves in the digital economy," said Mr Lew.

Ms Serene Ow, Grab’s head of data science, transport, marketplace and experiences, said new hires with skills in AI can help with her team’s work on making better sense of customers’ preferences.

For instance, improvements can be made in its ride hailing service, allowing for better matching of Grab drivers to passengers.

“It’s about improving operational processes as well,” added Ms Ow.