Southeast Asia ride-hailing giant Grab has joined up with Mastercard to issue physical and virtual prepaid cards — a move that would likely boost adoption of its e-wallet GrabPay.
The virtual prepaid cards will be issued to users’ GrabPay wallet via the Grab app. The physical version will come enabled with both NFC and EMV chip technology; Grab said it will release details on how to apply for the physical cards when it is ready.
Both can be topped by cash through any of Grab’s 8 million ‘micro-entrepreneurs’, which include drivers, agents and merchants on the GrabPay platform. These micro-entrepreneurs will effectively serve as mobile ATMs.
The prepaid cards can be used at any retailer — both online or offline — as long as they accept Mastercard payments.
Grab said that this initiative will help the region’s 400 million unbanked consumers gain more access to e-payment options — part of its grand vision to become a WeChat-esque everyday app providing essential services.
Currently, GrabPay users in Philippines and Indonesia can already top up their mobile wallet using cash via Grab’s driver-partners. Additionally, in Indonesia, through a partnership with e-payment platform OVO, GrabPay users can top up their e-wallet via convenience store chain Alfamart and supermarket chain Hypermart.
“This partnership with Grab significantly advances our reach in Southeast Asia and aligns with our goal of expanding digital payments across all consumers and merchants.” said Rama Sridhar, EVP, Digital & Emerging Partnerships and New Payment Flows, Mastercard.
“Without changing infrastructure, we can now offer merchants the opportunity to tap into Grab’s user base of emerging middle class consumers, covering 1 in 6 mobile phones in Southeast Asia,” he added.
Grab plans to launch the card in the first half of 2019, starting in Singapore and the Philippines.
On Tuesday, Chinese internet giant Tencent rolled out a similar initiative in Singapore. Through a partnership with Singapore’s largest cashless payment provider, NETS, users of its e-payment app WeChat Pay can make purchases at certain stores that use the NETS POS terminal.
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