Ride-hailing service Grab starts full operations in Myanmar

YANGON, NNA - Southeast Asian ride-hailing giant Grab has begun full operations in Myanmar, launching localized apps with new safety and technology features after a four-month trial period.

Hooi Ling Tan, co-founder of Grab, said Myanmar has become the seventh country to be covered by its ride-hailing platform, the largest online transportation network in Southeast Asia.

Tan said the expansion of its technology and local partnerships is aimed at bringing improvements to users as well as supporting the government's efforts to upgrade transport infrastructure.

The Singapore-based firm launched its business operation in Yangon, Myanmar's commercial hub, in March.

More than 5,000 drivers in Myanmar have been registered in Grab's network.

Tan said the company's drivers have seen 30 percent growth in their average income during the trial period.

"We have seen positive and meaningful results, including improvements in taxi service standards and transport efficiency," she said.

The new service expansion in Yangon includes a care program for local drivers and a 24-hour customer call service as well as GrabVenue terminals at major shopping malls such as Junction City, a newly opened high-end shopping mall in Yangon.

The soon-to-open terminals will allow customers without a smartphone to access the service.

Founded in 2012, Grab started operation of its on-demand transportation and mobile payment platform in Malaysia and later expanded to Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The operator says it has partnered with more than 1.1 million drivers in 65 cities across the seven countries.

The company has received several fund injections from some firms to accelerate its expansion in the region, including $250 million channeled by Japan's SoftBank Group Corp. in 2014.

Grab said Monday that SoftBank and China's ride-hailing leader Didi Chuxing will invest up to $2 billion in extra financing to strengthen its market position in the region.

The company expects to raise a total of $2.5 billion in its latest round of financing, planning to raise an additional $500 million from existing and new investors. (NNA/Kyodo)