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Grab buys Indonesia shopping platform to expand battle with Uber

LiveMint logoLiveMint 03-04-2017 Yoolim Lee

Grab, Uber Technologies Inc.’s biggest rival in Southeast Asia, will acquire Indonesian e-commerce start-up Kudo for an undisclosed amount, striking its first deal since pledging to invest $700 million in its largest market.

The purchase is aimed at beefing up payment services while expanding its reach across Southeast Asia’s largest country. The Singapore-based ride-hailing firm also announced Monday it’s hiring former Euronet Worldwide Inc. executive Jason Thompson to head GrabPay.

Kudo helps consumers without bank accounts to shop online by connecting them with online merchants and other service providers across 500 cities and towns. Grab plans to accelerate the expansion of that network while using Kudo’s reach to bring more riders and drivers onto its own platform, it said in a statement. The pair plan to explore new financial services products such as insurance and consumer loans.

Grab, which introduced GrabPay last year, is racing against Indonesian rival Go-Jek to set up digital wallets for riders. It’s promised to invest $700 million in Indonesia over the next four years to build its digital payments network and win over a market of 260 million people.

Indonesia is Grab’s largest market, where the company saw its car- and motorcycle-hailing businesses grow more than 600% in 2016. Smartphone and Internet penetration is now booming alongside rising incomes and economic growth, igniting competition in ride-hailing.

Grab, which is said to be valued at more than $3 billion, intends to set aside as much as $100 million to bankroll early-stage domestic start-ups in mobile and financial services. It’s now establishing research centers in Jakarta, Bengaluru and Ho Chi Minh City to complement engineering offices in Singapore, Beijing and Seattle. Bloomberg

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