Grab is Southeast Asia’s top ride-hailing firm, thanks in no small part to its acquisition of Uber’s local business last year, but the company also houses an ambitious fintech arm, too. That just added another vertical to its business after Grab announced it is teaming up with China’s ZhongAn to introduce insurance. Jon Russell specially for the TechCrunch.
Grab and ZhongAn International, the international arm of the Chinese insurance giant, said today they will create a joint venture that will provide digital insurance services across Southeast Asia. Grab said the new business will partner with insurance companies to offer the services via its mobile app. Chubb — a company that already works with Grab to offer micro-loans to its drivers — is the first partner to commit; it’ll offer insurance for Grab drivers starting in Singapore.
ZhongAn is widely lauded for being China’s first digital-only insurance platform. It’s backed by traditional insurance giant PingAn and Chinese internet giants Tencent and Alibaba.
Grab’s move into digital insurance comes a day after Singapore Life, an online insurer in Singapore, closed the second part of a $33 million funding round aimed at expanding its business in Southeast Asia.
This ZhongAn partnership adds another layer to Grab’s services and fintech business, which already includes payments — both offline and online — and is scheduled to move into cross-border remittance and online healthcare, the latter being a deal with ZhongAn sibling PingAn Good Doctor.
The push is also part of a wider strategy from Grab, which was last valued at more than $11 billion and is aiming to turn its app from merely ride-hailing to an everyday-needs app, in the style of Chinese “super apps” like Meituan and WeChat.
Indeed, Grab president Ming Ma referenced that very ambitious move, calling the insurance products “part of our commitment to becoming the leading everyday super app in the region.”
Last summer, Grab opened its platform to third-parties, which can lean on its considerable user base — currently at 130 million downloads — to reach consumers in Southeast Asia, where the fast-growing “digital economy” is tipped to triple to reach $240 billion by 2025. Grab’s platform has welcomed services like e-grocer HappyFresh, deals from travel giant Booking and more.
Grab has also made efforts to develop the local ecosystem with its own accelerator program — called Velocity — which, rather than providing equity, helps young companies to leverage its platform. It has also made investments, including a deal with budget hotel brand OYO in India, a fellow SoftBank portfolio company that has designs on expansion in Southeast Asia.
Grab itself operates across eight markets in Southeast Asia, where it claims to have completed more than two billion rides to date. The company is currently raising a massive Series H fund that has already passed $3 billion in capital raised but has a loftier goal of reaching $5 billion, as we reported recently.
Go-Jek, Grab’s chief rival, is expanding its business outside of Indonesia after launching in Vietnam, Thailand and Vietnam. Like Grab, it, too, offers services beyond ride-hailing, and the company — which is backed by the likes of Meituan, Google and Tencent — is close to finalizing a new $2 billion funding round for its battle with Grab.