Asian Uber Rival Grab Gets Hold of e-Money License in Malaysia

Capitalizing on the growing popularity of mobile payments in Malaysia, ride-hailing company Grab has been granted a license by Bank Negara Malaysia to offer what it calls “e-money services” in that country.

The license will enable Grab to offer its GrabPay mobile payments system for use in restaurants, stores and online, the company said.

Grab has been working to build on its status as a popular consumer brand to expand electronic payments in the region. Its app is already available on many consumers’ smartphones.

“As one of the region’s most frequently used consumer apps with 72 million downloads, we are happy to work with Bank Negara to drive mass adoption of mobile payments in Malaysia and across Southeast Asia,” Jason Thompson, managing director of GrabPay, said in a press release.

Grab cites progressive Malaysian government policies in support of digital transactions as one of the reasons the country is ripe for fintech growth. Bank Negara is Malaysia’s central bank. In 2010, it released the Malaysian Financial Sector Blueprint 2011-2020, a 10-year strategic plan that lays out a vision for Malaysia’s future economy.

The plan’s goals include promoting electronic payments as the preferred way for Malaysians to pay, increasing the yearly number of electronic transactions per person from 44 in 2010 to 200 in 2020.

Grab is betting that its existing infrastructure will help position it well to take advantage of this drive toward a digital economy.

“The enhanced GrabPay e-wallet will offer a lot of value to Malaysians. It’s secure, simple and rewarding to use. Moreover, SMEs (small and medium enterprises) can tap into Grab’s large pool of consumers without the hefty burden of big advertising and marketing budgets. For our many Grab consumers, it means they can benefit from mobile payments without having to download a new app,” Sean Goh, country head, Grab Malaysia, said.

This spring, Grab acquired an e-commerce platform to expand its payments capabilities within Indonesia. At that time, it shared plans to overturn the dominance of cash in Southeast Asia, capitalizing on the reach it already had. The company also expanded to Singapore just last month.

Grab plans to launch its electronic payments service for Malaysians in early 2018.