People wait for the start of ride-hailing company Grab’s news conference in Singapore. Picture: REUTERS
People wait for the start of ride-hailing company Grab’s news conference in Singapore. Picture: REUTERS

After gaining success in ride-hailing, Grab co-founder Anthony Tan is pushing his start-up into a new challenge: catering to those underserved by traditional financial institutions in southeast Asia.

Tan, together with GrabPay southeast Asia MD Jason Thompson, laid out his vision on Tuesday as the company tries to become a major financial services platform in the region.

Grab, once an underdog compared with bigger rival Uber Technologies, has become the dominant player in southeast Asia after winning customers from Singapore to Vietnam. It was reported earlier in March that the two companies were close to finalising a deal under which Uber would sell its operations in the region to Grab.

"I wake up every day thinking about how we are going to empower the next 100-million micro entrepreneurs by 2020," Tan told the Money 20/20 conference in Singapore.

"I know it’s tough. But our job is to make impossible possible."

Even though southeast Asia is one of the fastest-growing regions for smartphone adoption, only 27% of adults have a bank account. With 86-million downloads, Grab already has a solid base of customers who can start using its app for their financial needs.

Bloomberg