Grab is opening up its ride-hailing app to third-party developers

Grab is opening up its platform to third-party developers and peers as part of efforts by the southeast Asian start-up to pivot from a ride-hailing app to a “one-stop shop”. The revamped platform is intended to be similar to Tencent’s ubiquitous WeChat messaging app in China, where ecommerce, gaming and other developers piggyback off WeChat’s 1 billion+ accounts. Grab’s move is aimed at keeping consumers on its platform longer, thus collecting more data that it ultimately can use to generate income. It is part of efforts by the six-year-old Singapore-based company to cement its dominant position in the region as rivals including Indonesia’s Go-Jek— backed by Google, Tencent and Temasek — also rev up. Go-Jek plans to invest $500 million to expand into Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam in coming months… The move also suggests that south-east Asia is more closely hewing to the China tech model of conglomerates… rather than the more focused approach of their US tech peers. However, Grab’s ambitious bid to develop a platform across disparate countries will bring the company into competition with groups supported by China’s tech giants, including Alibaba-backed ecommerce operator Lazada, and Sea, a platform spanning retail, gaming and payments in which Tencent has invested… Grab said its newly relaunched app should help push revenues up to $1 billion by the end of the year… 
Louise Lucas