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Anthony Tan, co-founder and chief executive of Grab. Photo: Bloomberg

Southeast Asia’s Grab cuts a familiar path with partnerships in logistics and travel

  • The new features will be rolled out across Grab’s Southeast Asian markets by the end of June

Grab, Singapore’s largest ride-hailing company, is making good on its vision to become Southeast Asia’s all-in-one app. Its latest investment in Singapore-based, last-mile delivery firm Ninja Van comes days after it introduced hotel and ticket-booking features to its app.

The investment into Ninja Van will see Grab’s current logistics service, GrabExpress, expand its offerings to include scheduled deliveries on top of on-demand deliveries.

The move is part of Grab’s mission to become a super app, a model first pioneered in China by Tencent Holdings’ WeChat, an app that allows its more than 1 billion users to do everything from messaging to ordering food and even buying discounted movie tickets.

Other Chinese internet platforms also offer super apps. Meituan, which started out as a group-buying site, later merged with restaurants site Dianping and now offers everything from restaurant reservations, food delivery and local services.

Apps that offer a variety of services is aimed at increasing the amount of time that a user spends in-app and to increase user stickiness, as well as to encourage the use of various services in its ecosystem.

Grab last week announced that it has partnered with online travel booking sites Agoda and for hotel bookings on its app, as well as video site HOOQ to allow users to stream videos.

It also teamed up with movie-ticketing platform BookMyShow so users can buy tickets on the Grab app.

The new features will be rolled out across Grab’s Southeast Asian markets by the end of June, the company said, adding to its portfolio of transport, food delivery and mobile payments.

Grab’s move towards becoming an “everyday app” also comes as some of the world’s biggest technology companies around the world move towards offering a variety of services on one platform.

In March, Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said the company planned to focus on private messaging and would ultimately become a platform for other kinds of private services, including calls, video chats, groups, stories, businesses, payments and commerce.

Apple, which for years has focused on selling its high-end iPhones and MacBooks, has pushed into news, gaming services, a television app and even its own credit card, as it seeks to reduce reliance on smartphone sales.

In Southeast Asia, Grab rival Go-Jek also offers a super app model in its home market of Indonesia, offering payments, food delivery, grocery delivery and even the option to order an on-demand manicurist.

Go-Jek last year expanded outside its home market to Singapore and this week announced a partnership with Singtel to offer complimentary phone services and data usage to driver-partners who subscribe to certain Singtel phone plans.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Ninja Van deal puts grab closer to super-app goal