Grab, Uber’s Southeast Asia rival, is in the process of buying Indonesia-based online payments startup Kudo, making it Grab’s first major acquisition.
According to TechCrunch, the deal could be announced as soon as this week. And while Reuters had previously reported that the deal was for more than $100 million, other sources suggest it is for a lower amount. While the Singapore-based Grab bought little-known Chinese ridesharing startup Youche back in 2013, the Kudo acquisition is a larger and more strategic deal.
Grab, which is worth $3 billion, recently pledged to spend $700 million in investments in Indonesia and at least $100 million in startups. The company raised $750 million in September and is focusing much of its business in Indonesia, which is Southeast Asia’s largest economy and has a population of over 250 million. Grab’s biggest competitors in the area are Uber and the local firm Go-Jek.
The Reuters article explained that Grab teamed up last year with Indonesian conglomerate Lippo Group to roll out a mobile payment platform, allowing customers to use the Grab app to make payments at Lippo’s retail outlets across the country.
Now, Kudo, a three-year-old business in Indonesia, will allow Grab to focus on expanding its payment options to the millions of unbanked citizens in the area. Founded in 2014, Kudo facilitates online transactions for Indonesian consumers with no bank accounts or credit cards in small towns and cities, helping them to make purchases online through its agents.
“These are real problems that I think deserve a solution in [a] way that hasn’t been seen in markets today. 80–90 percent of the [Indonesian] market hasn’t really had access to mobile payments, modern banking or modern credit, which we think is so important to develop Indonesia’s digital economy,” Grab President Ming Maa told TechCrunch in an interview earlier this month.