SINGAPORE: Ride-hailing operator Grab on Wednesday (Aug 30) announced that it has plans to extend its payment system - GrabPay - beyond transport.
It has introduced a new peer-to-peer transfer feature that users can use to transfer GrabPay credits using either a phone number or by scanning a quick response (QR) code – a type of barcode read by devices – unique to each user.
Users on the iOS platform can start doing so from Wednesday and Android users will be able to do so from Sep 4.
The Singapore-based company added that it intends to work with more than 1,000 merchants, such as those in food and beverage (F&B), retail and entertainment industries, in the fourth quarter of this year.
Head of GrabPay Jason Thompson said during a briefing on Wednesday that the company's aim is to help get these F&B players, primarily hawker centres, on board with the system.
He added that it is "engaged in the Request for Information" issued on Aug 25 by the National Environment Agency (NEA), Housing and Development Board (HDB), Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO) to develop electronic payment solutions at hawker centres and coffee shops.
These are merchants currently more heavily dependent on cash, in line with the Singapore Government's push to encourage more consumers and merchants to switch to cashless payments.
"Today, users can transfer money to each other; in the coming months, they can look forward to use GrabPay to buy food or other goods and services from physical shops," said Mr Thompson.
Grab also introduced a six-digit GrabPay PIN as a second-factor authentication this week to make the mobile wallet more secure. The app will automatically prompt users to input the PIN when it detects any unusual activity, like when the app is being used in a different country.
In the future, it hopes to add fingerprint authentication to the mix, the company said.
Singapore is the first country where Grab will trial its payment system beyond transportation, it said.
MAKING REWARDS PAY OFF
Mr Thompson also said its GrabRewards platform, which allows Grab users to accumulate points through their rides and redeem them for services and products, is key to getting users on board the cashless payments journey.
He said Grab is focusing on the e-payments issue from another angle: Giving consumers a usage model for their digital wallets, instead of trying to untangle the conflicting cashless payment systems in the market currently - a point made by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during his National Day Rally speech.
He said the GrabRewards platform, which was officially launched this month, has attracted partners such as music streaming provider Spotify, as well as F&B players like KFC and Haagen Dazs, and these give users a reason to stay and use its digital wallet.
This, he noted, is the second step of a three-step cycle to make sure digital wallets are used by people and stay relevant. The first is to help merchants solve their payment problems and getting them on board one's platform, and the third is for the user base to grow to a size big enough to influence user behaviour on a mass scale, he explained.