Grab, the Singaporean company behind the popular eponymous app, officially launched operations in Cambodia yesterday, becoming the second major international player in the ride-hailing market.
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US-based Uber beat the Singaporean company to the Khmer market, having launched its ride-sharing app locally in September.
Cambodia becomes the eighth nation where the app is available, following on the footsteps of Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Myanmar.
Grab is initially available only in Phnom Penh, but the company in charge of the app has plans to expand to other major urban centres in the kingdom.
Wee Tang Yee, Grab’s country director for Cambodia and Thailand, said at the launching ceremony that as Southeast Asia’s homegrown technology, the Grab app has a strong social purpose, arguing that it will help thousands of Cambodians increase their income or even earn a living.
“We are committed to improving the lives of Cambodians and support Cambodia’s economic potential with the region’s best technological know-how and innovation in transportation and payment,” he said.
Hooi Ling Tan, Grab’s co-founder, said they remain the number one ride-booking app in Southeast Asia, boasting the largest network in the market, with 2.1 million drivers in 156 different cities.
Over the past five years, she added, the app’s user base has expanded exponentially, reaching 72 million downloads and 3.5 million rides a day.
“Grab will support the economic and social development in Cambodia by enhancing road safety, providing better income opportunities for drivers and introducing the convenience of cashless transactions to local communities.”
Sun Chanthol, the Minister of Transport, said the presence of the Singaporean company was great news for the transportation industry.
Ride-hailing apps being a very novel concept in the kingdom, Mr Chanthol explained, the government has been working closely with Uber and Grab to prepare the market in terms of regulations, as well as more practical issues like traffic management.
“The ministry has signed an MoU with Grab to work together in traffic management,” he said. “We aim to create a more efficient traffic management process for the benefit of all commuters.”
Mr Chanthol added that Grab and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are also exploring a potential partnership to promote sustainable urban transport measures, technologies and systems with a view to reducing transport-related greenhouse emissions and improve living standards in urban areas.
According to a 2016 report by Google, Southeast Asia’s ride-sharing and taxi on-demand service could hit $13 billion by 2025 with 29 million monthly riders – up from an estimated 7.3 million now – growing at 18 percent per year.