Microsoft Throws its Own Cash Behind Mobile Payments Ridesharing Grab

October 11, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

Just recently, we heard about some serious funding going into Grab, an operation that would leave the company standing as one of the biggest names in ridesharing in southeast Asia. Softbank, Didi Chuxing, and Toyota had all put cash into Grab, but now, new word has emerged of another major investor planning a partnership operation: Grab.

The exact terms weren’t disclosed, but reports suggest Microsoft put around $200 million into Grab, or about 40 percent of what Softbank put in back during its recent funding round. The hefty investment opens up new opportunities for Microsoft, particularly in terms of development in new technologies. Specifically, Microsoft and Grab will collaborate on artificial intelligence and big data development.

Grab, in turn, will start putting Microsoft products like Azure to work. Azure’s recent gains in the field have made it a major new competitor against Amazon Web Services, and with Grab putting it to work, that should only cement the position further. Plus, riders will be able to put Microsoft Outlook to use in booking rides, and Microsoft’s systems will help Grab improve current maps and offer more personalized services.

Microsoft executive vice president Peggy Johnson noted “Our partnership with Grab opens up new opportunities to innovate in both a rapidly evolving industry and growth region. We’re excited to team up to transform the customer experience as well as enhance the delivery of digital services for the millions of users who rely on Grab for safe and affordable transport, food and package delivery, mobile payments, and financial services.”

Grab has been a surprising new entrant in the mobile payments field in the region, along with its various offerings of ridesharing, food delivery, and other issues. It proves a clear value in diversification; after all, someone might step in on ridesharing to compete, but will it be able to readily compete with its food delivery, mobile payments, and other systems? Plus, with a thumb in that many pies, it’s likely to be better able to weather a downturn. Sure, there’s some risk of diffusion hurting focus, but the fields here are actually somewhat complementary, which would help.

Either way, Grab has pulled a lot of interest from the investment community, and it’s likely to keep that attraction going for some time.