With e-money license, Grab touts digital wallet power

Tech in Asia

Ride-hailing service provider Grab Philippines reported it has obtained an electronic money (e-money) license from the BangkoSentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), allowing it to expand its GrabPay service in the country.

The granting of the e-money license to Grab Philippines in August by the BSP will enable the company to expand the services provided by its GrabPay mobile wallet, allowing customers to eventually be able to pay for other services apart from paying for their rides and deliveries.

“We believe that the Philippines is one of the most attractive markets in Southeast Asia for mobile payments and that is why we are very happy to be here….  We believe that we can make cashless more convenient than cash with GrabPay,” said GrabPay Singapore, Malaysia, and Philippines, Managing Director Ooi Huey Tyng, at the sidelines of the Seamless Philippines 2018 Conference held at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City recently.

The new services that will be offered include bills payment as well as in-store and in-restaurant purchases, among others. Grab Philippines eyes to launch the first feature of its

GrabPay service to be the option to top-up prepaid load.

“As compared to national average of 1 percent, cashless penetration in our Grab application is 20 percent of cashless transactions. And we believe that we will play a very significant role in moving the Philippines forward in the digital economy and very aligned with BSP’s vision eventually,” she added.

The Philippines will be the fifth country in Southeast Asia to have the full suite of GrabPay services available to consumers, with other countries being Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia  and Vietnam.

“We are happy to also announce that GrabPay has been granted e-money license which opens up all kinds of possibilities,” she said.

Also, Grab Philippines just launched its Grab Superapp, an enhanced interface of its application wherein users are presented with quick access to their GrabPay wallet, easy navigation to all Grab services, and a personalized news feed.

“By October 8, 100 percent of the Grab users will already see the Grab Superapp interface,” she added.

Tyng explained that the company will bank on the trust of its users around Southeast Asia to further enhance its GrabPay service, and that it will provide rewards for the consumers who use the application.

“So today in the Philippines, one in every two smartphones already have our application downloaded. Our goal is to be the regional wallet or the Southeast Asia wallet. And all we want to do is to move Southeast Asia forward in digital payments. For the Philippines, we are present in 10 cities already and I would say that we would continue to grow as we expand further as well,” she said.

As Southeast Asia’s largest online-to-online platform, Grab is banking on the ubiquity of its transport application here in the Philippines to also succeed in a market that it plans to take over, not only in the country, but in the whole of Southeast Asia, a top executive said.

Tyng said her group is now expanding its platform to include digital payments services for retail, a service that will be available soon after it successfully acquires merchants and partners in the country.

It recently received an e-money license from the BangkoSentral ng Pilipinas, a certification that allows the company to issue digital money to its customers electronic wallets found in their apps.

“We see the Philippines as one of the most attractive markets in terms of e-wallet,” Tyng said in an interview. “The Philippines has one of the highest percentages of people in Southeast Asia who do not have a bank account and who transact in cash.”

Data from the Central B ank showed that more than 98 percent of total transactions in the Philippines is still in cash, while 86 percent of the country’s population remains unbanked.

Filipinos are no stranger to digital wallets, as telecommunications companies started offering the product to their consumers as far as a decade ago. Despite this, the market is still highly unsaturated.

“Even if we have no shortage of e-wallet providers here, the adoption is still very low. I see the challenge is more about consumer adoption,” Tyng said.  And this opportunity is the very strength that Grab wants to tap into, she said, explaining the popularity of Grab in the Philippines.

“In the Philippines, we are present in one in every two smartphones. Consumers are trusting and relying on our platform,” she said, pertaining to Grab’s ride-hailing application.

Wide suite of services

Tyng added that GrabPay’s success will also be boosted by the fact that Grab drivers will be enabled to top-up their customer’s e-wallets with credits, aside from soon-to-be-launched partners such as convenience stores and kiosk operators.

Services of GrabPay, she said, will include the following: airtime top up, bills payment, remittance, money transfer and retail.

“Definitely, what the consumer needs is the solution to pain points about paying cash,” she said.

Today, Grab is aggressively acquiring merchants such as restaurants and even small business to carry GrabPay’s QR technology, which in a nutshell allows users to pay for their purchases using the app by scanning a merchant’s unique code.

Tyng noted that its large customer base will help “incentivize the adoption” of mobile payments among Filipino merchants.

Grab receives more than 600,000 booking requests per day, and has over 35,000 driver partners in Manila alone. It also has operations in nine other Philippine cities.— Business Mirror