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Grab/ Facebook

Grab launches electronic payment platform

Ride-hailing operator Grab has launched an electronic payment platform set up which enables users to pay for their food using their mobile phone at hawker stalls and restaurants that have signed up for its e-payment platform.

The company stated that it aims to attract 1,000 merchants in areas including Telok Ayer, Tanjong Pagar, and Tiong Bahru by the end of the year. The first batch, 25 eateries in the Central Business District and Bishan area, was launched on Wednesday (1 November), including A Poke Theory, Cafe Zeppin, Napolean Wine Bar, homegrown bakery chain Cedele, and Park Bench Deli. Signs have been put up at the stalls to inform customers of the additional payment option.

The company added that it wants to encourage the more than 20,000 merchants in Singapore who mainly or only accept cash as payment to get on board. Currently, there is no transaction cost when merchants sign up with GrabPay though this will be reviewed six months later, adding that the merchants will pay a “very small” fee which the company declined to reveal exactly how much.

Grab co-founder Tan Hooi Ling said, "We don’t want cost to be a barrier to adoption."

Grab application users can scan a merchant's QR code and key to use GrabPay to buy food in the amount that he wants to pay, and swipe an icon to confirm the transaction then both merchant and customer will be notified of the transaction.

Beyond Singapore, Grab has confirmed that it will launch the e-wallet service across Southeast Asia next year.

Ms Tan also said, "Amid Singapore’s push towards a Smart Nation, we are enabling Grab users to pay for services outside of transportation. We’re focused on helping cash businesses go cashless, giving them access to new customers in an affordable way. Enabling Grab payments in restaurants and shops is a significant step towards becoming the largest consumer Internet platform in Southeast Asia."

Grab said that it is open to working with other e-payment providers. Currently, the firm is banking on its app user base of four million to give it an edge over its competitors.

Ms Tan said, "The biggest differentiator is actually the customer base that we have. For other payment applications, the biggest challenge they have is usually to get new customers to download the app. The best thing about Grab is we already have 65 million users in Southeast Asia, four million in Singapore."

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has made a call for the integration and simplification of such systems in his National Day Rally speech.

Answering to his call, several companies have started to roll out digital payments nationwide in recent months, such as leading payment solutions provider Nets which announced in September its plans to implement various new ways for consumers to pay merchants at all its 100,000 acceptance points by the middle of next year.