Singapore-based ride sharing company Grab announced last month it had acquired the Southeast Asia operations of the giant US ride-sharing operation Uber.
With the deal, Grab says it will extend its leadership as the most cost-efficient Southeast Asian platform as it takes over Uber’s operations and assets in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. As part of the acquisition, Uber will take a 27.5 percent stake in Grab.
Wee Tang Yee, country head of Grab Cambodia, talked to May Kunmakara about the deal and what it will mean for its operation in Cambodia since the company launched in the country just over three months ago.
KT: Could you tell me something about the deal? Will Grab take over all Uber here? So, there will no longer be Uber in Cambodia?
Mr Wee: Grab acquires Uber’s operations and assets in Southeast Asia, including its transport and food businesses. The acquisition also covers Uber’s ride-hailing operations in Cambodia.
Our priority is to continue serving our passengers and drivers, and minimise any disruption for them. Both platforms will operate simultaneously for the immediate term to ensure there is sufficient transition time for interested Uber drivers to be brought onboard the Grab platform.
Grab and Uber are working together to promptly migrate Uber drivers and riders, merchant partners and delivery partners to the Grab platform.
The Uber app will continue to operate for two weeks to ensure stability for Uber drivers, who can find out how to sign up to drive with Grab online (www.grab.com/kh/comingtogether).
All Uber employees including ones in Cambodia will receive offers to join Grab. Together, we will strengthen our O2O mobile platform for meaningful everyday services, and drive rapid growth in transport, food delivery, package delivery and mobile payments and financial services.
Uber leaders in Cambodia and Southeast Asia operations will be offered employment in Grab.
Uber employees whose coverage is wider than Southeast Asia will continue to work for Uber.
For passengers nothing will change in the immediate term. Operations will continue as normal. As we work together to combine the Uber and Grab platforms, passengers can expect better service with more drivers and transport options available on one app.
The Uber service will be available in Southeast Asia for two more weeks as we bring Uber drivers to the Grab platform.
Uber riders can immediately download and use the Grab app to book rides for their travelling needs in Southeast Asia.
Uber customers who don’t already have a Grab account will need to download the Grab app and create an account to tap into our combined pool of ride, delivery and payment solutions.
The most important thing is the same. They can book daily rides easily, on-demand and choose the transport service they prefer, whether car, bike or new beta-testing services like GrabTukTuk in Phnom Penh and GrabRemorque in Siem Reap.
However, there’s no need to delete Uber app if you plan to travel outside Southeast Asia. Uber rides outside of Southeast Asia will still be supported.
By acquiring Uber’s businesses, we bring an even broader choice and a better service to consumers. Our combined car fleets, together with Grab’s sophisticated demand-matching technology, will reduce waiting and pick-up times for passengers.
This strengthens Grab’s position as one of the platforms that SEA consumers depend on for all their daily needs. Consumers now turn to Grab for their transport needs at every price point, and their financial service needs.
Apart from this, passengers also get more out of Grab. With GrabRewards, they can also enjoy more value with Grab rides.
They can earn points and redeem them instantly for benefits such as fares or discounts off the next ride.
Grab also has GrabPay for passengers to go cashless when paying for rides,
For drivers, in the immediate term nothing changes. Both Grab and Uber drivers can drive as they normally do. Uber drivers can continue to drive while we work to bring everyone on to the Grab platform.
Uber drivers will need to register to drive with Grab after the Uber service closes.
As we bring Uber passengers and drivers on to the Grab platform, there will be more passengers using Grab, which will mean more jobs, less waiting time, and ultimately more earnings for our driver-partners.
Uber will pay the fares and corresponding incentives from rides picked up using the Uber Partner app. Moreover, Uber will continue to serve and resolve all existing requests in this transition period.
Drivers can contact Uber support within the Help section of their Uber app, on help.Uber.com, or at any of Uber’s Greenlight locations.
For questions related to Grab, they can go to Help Centre on www.grab.com/kh/
KT: What are your plans for after the Uber deal?
Mr Wee: Looking forward, we will be pushing towards our next stage of growth – to serve Cambodia people in all their most important daily needs, whether to ride, pay, dine or earn more for their families.
Today, we are already helping many driver-partners to earn more. Now, we will also rapidly expand our hyperlocal services like GrabBike, GrabTukTuk and Grab Remorque as well as look for opportunities and study the market for other services like GrabFood in Cambodia so that we can provide more jobs for delivery couriers and restaurants and serve the Cambodian community in the best way we can.
KT: Cambodia is such a small country in Southeast Asia while the people’s knowledge to the technology is also limited. How do you succeed in this market?
Mr Wee: There were many ride-hailing apps in Cambodia prior to Grab and Uber and people have already been getting used to using them.
As Grab’s mission is to drive Southeast Asia forward by solving local transportation problems, we have always look for opportunities in the region where our service can be a solution.
In the past years, we’ve seen Cambodia as a fast-growing market with an expanding traffic network, construction projects and urbanisation, especially in Phnom Penh.
With higher density of population to a capital city fueled by economic development, one of the challenges will be developing good transport infrastructure which provides safe, convenient, easily-accessible and efficient ways for people to commute.
To be a success in this market, we aim to offer the best customer experience to both our drivers and passengers.
As the heart of the Grab mission is making mobility safer, easier, faster and more affordable, we are always adding more transport options to our app that can serve more consumers at different price points and income levels, and to make our app the ride-hailing platform passengers choose to use most.
Our way of keeping rides affordable is deploying more drivers and vehicles on the roads more efficiently.
We do this with our booking algorithm to match drivers and passengers more effectively, resulting in more passengers and more fares for drivers, and faster rides and overall less expensive fares for passengers.
Our customers also get more value when they ride with Grab. With the GrabRewards network, the largest loyalty programme in Southeast Asia, our customers earn points that can be redeemed for partner offers and ride discounts.
KT: Where are your services available in Cambodia? I mean in how many cities and provinces? What kinds of vehicle serve people?
Mr Wee: We launched JustGrab service on entering the Cambodia market in December 2017. When passengers book JustGrab rides, the Grab app displays the exact trip fare.
Drivers who accept the ride will honour the trip fare, making Grab bookings an easy and negotiation-free process for both passengers and drivers.
JustGrab also offers passengers shorter waiting times by alerting the nearest available Grab driver on the booking. This also helps to reduce traffic congestion, as drivers do not need to drive around to find passengers.
We officially launched GrabBike in Phnom Penh last week and we are now beta-testing GrabTukTuk in Phnom Penh and GrabRemorque in Siem Reap.
KT: How are the rates compared with the local moto or automobile taxis?
Mr Wee: Grab’s approach to pricing has always been guided by market supply and demand to ensure the fairest fare for both our drivers and passengers.
With dynamic fares, fares will be calculated based on a base distance, with a dynamic surcharge that will be applied based on factors including demand and supply at that point in time, traffic conditions and estimated time taken for the journey.
This is a fair calculation for drivers as they navigate varying road conditions throughout the day. This means fares are lower in low demand periods – and vice versa – which helps match drivers to passengers efficiently throughout the day.
KT: How will your business expand in years to come?
Mr Wee: Grab’s goal has always been to improve lives in Southeast Asia, and we will continue to invest in Cambodia.
In the long term, our focus will still be on Southeast Asia countries. Today, Grab reaches one in eight people in the region, and we have a significant and important opportunity to become the leading O2O mobile platform that everyone in Southeast Asia uses for their daily lives.
We have tremendous runway for growth as we’re building the number one online-to-offline mobile platform in SEA, one that serves the most important everyday needs of consumers in the region.