Grab, a ride-hailing platform that is often referred to as Southeast Asia’s answer to Uber, is extending its payments platform through its acquisition of e-commerce platform Kudo.
Kudo enables Indonesian consumers to make online purchases using cash. According to Grab, 43% of Indonesian consumers are unbanked. Kudo connects consumers with online retailers through a network of agents.
The acquisition complements Grab’s existing network across Indonesia’s major cities, the company said. Kudo’s unique structure, with 400,000 agents in 500 towns across Indonesia, will extend Grab into smaller towns and rural areas as well.
The company said it is looking at ways to grow its community of riders and drivers, as well as expand Kudo’s financial services, using this combined distribution network.
“Combining Kudo’s innovative [online to offline] ecommerce solution and extensive agent network with GrabPay and Grab’s massive and active customer base will advance our mission of providing millions of people across Indonesia with increased access to convenient cashless payments and new income opportunities, while also unlocking compelling new ways to boost online spending,” said Ming Maa, president of Grab, in a press release.
A Grab spokesperson told PaymentFacilitator.com that Grab is one of the most frequently used mobile platforms in Southeast Asia, with its app on 38 million devices. It’s used by 780,000 drivers in 40 cities.
“With that reach,” the spokesperson said, “we believe Grab also has the opportunity to disrupt the region’s reliance on cash-based transactions and help Southeast Asians move into the growing digital economy with our trusted, high-frequency, ubiquitous platform.”
The company launched the Grab 4 Indonesia initiative in February. The plan involves investing $700 million in Indonesia over the next four years based on three pillars, one of which is “expanding access to mobile payments and financing opportunities.”
“The Kudo transaction reflects our commitment to support Indonesia’s drive to become Southeast Asia’s largest digital economy by 2020, and our goal of deepening financial inclusion in Indonesia by providing all Indonesians the opportunity to move into the digital economy,” the Grab spokesperson said.
At the time of the Grab 4 Indonesia launch, the company said it intends to expand financing opportunities to its driver partners, helping them to finance vehicles and other purchases they need to build their own businesses.
It is also using its mobile payments platform and relationships with banking and retailing partners to extend financing and payment options beyond its drivers to other Indonesian consumers.
Also this week, Grab announced that it had hired Jason Thompson, formerly of Euronet, to be the head of GrabPay.
“I’m excited at the prospect of building our payments business from the ground up. A large portion of Southeast Asia’s 620 million people remain unbanked and continue to use cash – a costly and unsafe way to pay. With GrabPay, we have an incredible opportunity to provide a safe, affordable and convenient mobile payments solution for people across the region,” Thompson said in a release.