Grab is introducing Asia’s first numberless card in batches, with Singapore launching on Thursday (Dec. 5) and the Philippines during the first quarter 2020, the company announced in a press release.
The digital GrabPay Card is powered by Mastercard and offers users seamless payments integration and an expanded rewards system with a limited promotion giving up to 10x GrabReward points for every dollar spent. With the cashless card, GrabPay is striving to bring financial inclusion to the millions of underbanked and unbanked in Southeast Asia.
“As the leading everyday super app in Southeast Asia, we are at an inflection point in the adoption of digital payments,” said Huey Tyng Ooi, managing director at GrabPay.
The GrabPay Card “moves us toward an open payments ecosystem” and is “an important step for GrabPay in becoming a truly ASEAN wallet,” she added.
Regardless of whether they have a bank account, the GrabPay digital and physical card lets people conduct transactions at nearly 53 million merchants worldwide. It is also integrated into Garb’s ride-hailing service and food delivery feature, GrabFood.
Users can apply for the physical numberless card after receiving their digital cards. Following Singapore and the Philippines, the card will be launched in other Southeast Asian countries in the first half of next year.
“This partnership significantly expands Mastercard’s reach in Southeast Asia while helping Grab to rapidly scale up its global offering,” said Rama Sridhar, executive vice president of digital & emerging partnerships and new payment flows for Asia Pacific at Mastercard.
Grab’s card launch follows its application for a digital banking license in Singapore, Deal Street Asia reported. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) requires digital bank candidates to prove they are on the way to becoming profitable.
MAS is awarding two digital full bank (DFB) licenses in the middle of 2020 as well as three digital wholesale bank (DWB) licenses, according to a June press release. A DFB will be allowed to take deposits and provide banking services to retail and non-retail customers. A DWB will be allowed to offer those services to SMEs and other non-retail customer segments.
In September Grab announced that it was planning to earmark $150 million for additional research into artificial intelligence (AI).