Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Grab investing $208M in AI to build regional super app

Grab investing $208M in AI to build regional super app

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Southeast Asian ride-hailing start-up Grab Holdings intends to invest $150 million into artificial intelligence (AI) research over the next year. THE STRAITS TIMES (SINGAPORE)

Grab investing $208M in AI to build regional super app

Southeast Asian ride-hailing start-up Grab Holdings intends to invest $150 million into artificial intelligence (AI) research over the next year, accelerating its expanding business that now includes food delivery, digital payments and digital content.

Grab, in hot competition with rival Gojek to become Southeast Asia’s do-it-all super app, outlined for the first time a blueprint for its use and deployment of AI.

It will build on the $100 million it had previously invested in the technology, said co-founder Tan Hooi Ling, and improve its fraud prevention and natural language processing (NLP) technology.

“We want to go from AI-powered to AI everywhere,” Tan said in an interview with Bloomberg TV at the Sooner Than You Think tech conference in Singapore, which ended on Friday.

She sees successful technology companies building “great platforms that are very localised to the problem they are trying to solve”.

So Grab is working with Microsoft on delivering better NLP and making the region’s leader in ride hailing, food delivery and digital payments even more tailored and accessible to users in the various markets.

Technology companies like Grab are preparing as blazing-fast fifth-generation networks spread, powering complex AI applications and catalysing the emergence of futuristic technologies like self-driven cars.

But Grab, according to Tan, is focused on its customers and their immediate needs. “We won’t just build AI for the sake of AI,” she said.

Grab, which is raising more than $4.5 billion in its latest funding round from heavy hitters, including SoftBank Group’s Vision Fund and Tencent Holdings, is hiring thousands of people and setting up research centres from Beijing to Seattle.

At the heart of its global effort is an ambition to create an all-in-one “super app” akin to Tencent’s WeChat for China.

The company’s GrabPay service already allows consumers to pick up the tab for rides and order food, and it is expanding into lending and insurance.

Last year, it debuted a financial technology platform and launched Grab Ventures to fund promising start-ups.

The company is also said to be considering applying for a digital banking licence if Singapore allows it.

Tan concluded by saying that Grab, which is valued at about $14 billion, according to CB Insights, is “very much on track” to match or even slightly exceed forecasts of $2 billion in revenue for the year. THE STRAITS TIMES (SINGAPORE)

MOST VIEWED

  • Draft law on state of emergency pending finalisation

    Prime Minister Hun Sen will lead a top-level meeting on Tuesdays to review the draft law on imposing a state of emergency. Meantime, he has decided to close all casinos in Cambodia effective April 1. In the press conference after the National Assembly met today, Hun

  • State of emergency on table amid pandemic

    Prime Minister Hun Sen, his deputy prime ministers and legal team will meet on Tuesday to review the draft law on declaring a state of emergency, as Covid-19 cases rose to 107 in the Kingdom on Monday. Speaking at a press conference after a parliament meeting

  • Stranded passengers petition UK for help

    Some 10,521 people have signed an online petition calling on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and relevant officials to fly nearly 200 passengers out of Cambodia. The petition is targeted at 15,000 people. Most of the passengers are British nationals, who are stranded in Cambodia after airlines cancelled

  • No word on state of emergency

    The National Assembly (NA) said it will postpone all unnecessary meetings in line with guidance from the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) amid the Covid-19 pandemic. However, it did not say when or how it will debate the “state of emergency”

  • Many in limbo as tension heightens

    As the Kingdom restricts travel and prepares for a state of emergency, some foreigners in Cambodia are scrambling for a way home. Foreign embassies in Phnom Penh are making efforts to get their citizens out, but cancelled flights have become common due to the coronavirus

  • Covid-19 Pandemic: Force majeure and legal consequences

    Is the Covid-19 pandemic considered an event of force majeure? The World Health Organisation declared the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak a pandemic on March 11. Following this declaration, the Ministry of Health and other ministries have taken various legal and administrative measures to prevent the rapid