Grab raises $300 million for fintech arm’s ambitious expansion

Grab raises $300 million for fintech arm’s ambitious expansion
Backed by investors including Softbank Group Corp, Grab is seeking to evolve into an everyday app offering a variety of services. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 14 January 2021

Grab raises $300 million for fintech arm’s ambitious expansion

Grab raises $300 million for fintech arm’s ambitious expansion
  • Grab said this is the first external funding for the fintech business
  • Grab competes with the likes of Indonesia’s Gojek

SINGAPORE: Southeast Asian ride-hailing and food delivery giant Grab has raised more than $300 million from investors led by South Korea’s Hanwha Asset Management Co. Ltd. for its rapidly-expanding financial services business.
Grab said this is the first external funding for the fintech business, which has chalked out ambitious plans in insurance, lending, wealth management and payments.
Grab competes with the likes of Indonesia’s Gojek and many local start-ups that are attracting millions of customers as they look to disrupt established financial services companies in a region home to some 650 million people.
“We are at an inflection point in Southeast Asia, as the pandemic has accelerated the need for digital financial services that help us grow and protect our incomes,” Reuben Lai, senior managing director at Grab Financial Group said in a statement.
Grab’s early backers such as GGV Capital and Singapore venture capital firm K3 Ventures also participated in the fintech arm’s funding. New investors included fintech investment firm Flourish Ventures, backed by EBay founder Pierre Omidyar.
“As more and more of our life, work and activities move online, tech platforms have played a big role in formalizing the economy,” Tilman Ehrbeck, managing partner at Flourish said.
“They have a real opportunity to bring financial services to the users who often are not reached by the traditional banking system, particularly true in Southeast Asia, which has a relatively higher mobile Internet penetration,” he said.
Reuters reported in September, citing sources, that Grab was negotiating with insurers including Prudential PLC, AIA Group Ltd. and others to raise $300 million to $500 million for the financial services unit.
In December, Internet platform company Sea Ltd. and Grab’s venture with Singtel each won Singapore’s first digital full bank licenses.
Backed by investors including Softbank Group Corp, Grab is seeking to evolve into an everyday app offering a variety of services.


Saudi T-bill sell-off is ‘normal cash flow’ plan

Figures released by the Treasury showed big drops in the Kingdom’s multi-billion dollar holdings of American gilt-edged investments. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
Figures released by the Treasury showed big drops in the Kingdom’s multi-billion dollar holdings of American gilt-edged investments. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
Updated 8 min 34 sec ago

Saudi T-bill sell-off is ‘normal cash flow’ plan

Figures released by the Treasury showed big drops in the Kingdom’s multi-billion dollar holdings of American gilt-edged investments. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
  • Fall was result of normal investment management strategy during volatile market conditions sparked by COVID-19 pandemic

DUBAI: A fall in the holdings of US Treasury bills by Saudi Arabia in 2020 was the result of normal investment management strategy during the volatile market conditions sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to leading economists.

Figures released by the Treasury showed big drops in the Kingdom’s multi-billion dollar holdings of American gilt-edged investments, down $61 billion between March and May to stand at $123.5 billion. Saudi T-bill holdings have since picked up to $137.6bn at the end of last November.

Nasser Saidi, regional economics expert, told Arab News: “This is all about normal cash flow considerations. The period of selling coincided with a period when yields were low and falling, and there was a near collapse in equity markets.”

Another financial expert, who did not wish to be named, said the decline in Saudi holdings in US government bonds was consistent with the Kingdom’s declining foreign reserves, and did not reflect any policy of distancing between the two countries in financial markets.

“Saudi Arabia appears determined to maintain the peg between the dollar and the riyal, and holdings of T-bills will not influence that policy,” he said, pointing to tough fiscal measures taken by the Kingdom during the pandemic recession as evidence of the desire to keep the peg.

Though its holdings have been reduced progressively over recent years, Saudi Arabia remains the 14th largest holder of US Treasury bills, and by far the biggest in the Middle East. Japan and China are the largest, with around $2.3 trillion between them.