Microsoft and Grab, the on-demand transportation, mobile payments, and online-to-offline services platform in Southeast Asia, announced Monday (October 9) a strategic partnership in which Grab will tap Microsoft’s machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities.
In a press release, the companies said that in the first step of the partnership Grab will adopt Microsoft’s Azure as is preferred cloud platform. Microsoft is also making an undisclosed investment in the ride-hailing company.
“This partnership signals a deep collaboration with Microsoft on an array of technology projects, including big data and artificial intelligence, that will transform the delivery of everyday services and mobility solutions in Southeast Asia,” said Ming Maa, president of Grab, in the press release. “As a global technology leader, Microsoft’s investment into Grab highlights our position as the leading homegrown technology player in the region. We look forward to collaborating with Microsoft in the pursuit of enhancing on-demand transportation and seamless online-to-offline experiences for users.”
By making Azure its preferred cloud platform, Grab will have access to Microsoft’s intelligent cloud and AI to scale the Grab platform and to increase the capabilities it offers. The two will also explore several deep technology projects that will enhance and transform the Grab experience for drivers, users, and merchants, the companies said in the press release. Some of the projects include focusing on using data to improve passenger and driver safety and security, to prevent fraud in transactions on the Grab platform and to fuel its recommendation engine that provides personalized services and content recommendations via the Grab app. Grab also plans to work with Microsoft on image recognition and computer vision technologies to improve the driver and user pickup portion of the ride. Users will be able to take a picture of their location and have that translated into an address for the driver.
Grab will also provide on-demand transportation booking options to Outlook users so they can book rides from the app and be alerted via calendar reminders. “Our partnership with Grab opens up new opportunities to innovate in both a rapidly evolving industry and growth region,” said Peggy Johnson, executive vice president at Microsoft. “We’re excited to team up to transform the customer experience as well as enhance the delivery of digital services for the millions of users who rely on Grab for safe and affordable transport, food and package delivery, mobile payments, and financial services.”