Speaking at the inaugural Money 20/20 conference, Mr Anthony Tan, co-founder and CEO of Grab, cited the example of Ibu Sumiati, an Indonesian lady with a small aquarium business who is keen to expand her business to three outlets, and how the new JV - Grab Financial Services Asia - could offer her the financing she needs to make it happen.
What's new with Grab Financial is the addition of loan and insurance services to individuals around in Southeast Asia. Grab has said that the platform is now to be focussed exclusively on the company's business customers - chiefly its various drivers - but there may be a general consumer-focused version sometime in the future. This will include providing working capital loans, financing for smartphones and durable goods, and consumer goods financing.
The company said it has facilitated over US$737 million in loans over that period for drivers and agents, with a default rate of less than 1.5 per cent.
Grab is now in discussions with more than 60 financial institutions connected on its platform.
Their new joint venture firm, Grab Financial Services Asia, will offer micro-financing products and leverage Grab's network of millions of consumers and small businesses as well as data on consumer behaviour, blending it with Credit Saison's expertise in credit analysis and consumer lending.
"Many in our region have no access to loans that they can use to purchase a new home or grow their small business".
Grab will offer loans to the underserved via a joint-venture with Credit Saison, the largest lender in Japan (the company now has about $70 million credit cards in circulation, TechCrunch reported today).
Southeast Asian ride hailing app Grab is expanding into financial services in partnership with a Japanese credit card company, hoping to offer credit to millions of people without bank accounts.
Credit Saison is the largest credit card issuer in Japan and has also invested in e-commerce and biometric payments. US-based insurer Chubb is also signed on as a partner. It is also backed by some of the most powerful investors in the region, like SoftBank, China's Didi Chuxing, and Indonesia's Lippo Group, and can bring their vast resources to bear in its push into financial services. In Southeast Asia, KPMG estimates that just 27 percent of the region's 600 million population have a bank account.
Paul McNamee, Regional President, Chubb Asia Pacific, said, "We are delighted to work with a digital pioneer like Grab to protect their 2.6 million driver-partners".