Looking to expand on the features available for its GrabPay mobile payments platform, Uber’s Southeast Asian rival Grab has announced the acquisition of Bangalore-based fintech startup iKaaz.
The company cited a variety of innovations that iKaaz had built into its own platform, including support for NFC, QR code, and audio-based payments, as helping to provide the flexibility it needs to serve a broad region with diverse payments needs.
“iKaaz’ technology has served merchants and partners across different industries and in different settings, from parking lots and airports to retail stores and hotels,” Jason Thompson, managing director, GrabPay Southeast Asia, said in a press release.
“This rich set of offline payments features offers the flexibility needed to tailor our GrabPay platform to each country and partner in Southeast Asia. We look forward to leveraging the expertise of iKaaz’ leadership team and build GrabPay into SEA’s universal payments platform together.”
The diversity of the region’s payment preferences still includes many consumers who are unbanked and rely primarily on cash. Grab acquired e-commerce company Kudo, which used a network of agents to connect online retailers with consumers, last year.
Grab plans to bring the iKaaz team – which it said includes those with experience at other payments startups including Nokia Money and Obopay – onboard in its own Bangalore research and development center. The company said it expects to expand that office from 75 engineers to 200 in 2018.
Grab claims some initial success in its goal of parlaying its market presence as a popular ride-hailing app into regional payments powerhouse status. The company facilitates more than a billion transactions annually, it said.