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KrASIA Weekly: Grab launches ‘super app’ revamp, amidst anti-competitive regulations in the SEA region

Written by Robin Moh Published on   3 mins read

Grab goes full force to become the super app of Southeast Asia.

Hi there, it’s Robin.

The South-east Asia tech scene has moved up by another notch very quickly this week, mimicking the earlier trends amongst Chinese internet giants.

Singapore-headquartered Grab, for instance, moved into groceries delivery, partnering HappyFresh, in addition to ride-hailing, food delivery, and even mobile payments- taking huge strides in its directions of becoming a super app, similar to the likes of China’s O2O platform giant Meituan & Tencent’s WeChat.

Additionally, we have also heard of rumours that Grab might be looking to spin off GrabPay for independent growth – similar to how Tencent spin off its music streaming arm and how Didi splits its premier services from its other services.

However, it never gets easier for a startup, really.

While Singapore is looking into the implementation of possible measures such as lifting Grab’s exclusivity agreements with various players, Malaysia, on the other hand, also started to impose traditional taxi driver license rules on Grab’s drivers. Competitors of Grab such as Indonesia-based Go-Jek, Ryde, Kardi, and Jugnoo will be looking to pounce in on Grab’s larger market share at the moment.

This is why the entrepreneurship journey is difficult and startups have to stay nimble and alert in order to weather the storms to succeed.

Ironically,  90% of startups actually don’t prepare, refine and follow up, according to Tiang, a partner of SeedPlus, Singapore’s seed venture firm. SeedPlus is a seed-stage investor that identifies the buds among the weeds, looking to invest in product-focused deep tech startups across Asia.

SEA’s tech scenes aside, China’s tech unicorns are also facing some difficulties.

Xiaomi, for example, – the first to list after HKEx’s dual-listing, fails to impress, trading below its low-end offer price of HK$17 on its trading day debut. This could have some negative impact on the imminent IPOs at the Hong Kong bourse, with 51 Credit Card setting an offer price of only HK$8.50 for its upcoming IPO.

Ofo, China’s bike-sharing startup, has also started to close its Australia, Israel & India operations to focus on the growing domestic competition against Hellobike & Mobike.

The massive proliferation of app usage also comes with its own set of problems – China’s WeChat is looking to punish more than 50,000 accounts and 8,000 WeChat groups for online gambling – an illegal activity in China.

Still, this does not deter these giants.

Despite the online gambling challenge, WeChat has already on-boarded more than 1.5m third-party developers for its mini-app – one of China’s most disruptive technologies in recent years. This essentially offers convenience to users, ultimately driving WeChat’s push to become the sticky super app.

Interestingly, contrary to the dismal IPO climate in Hong Kong, the private investments sector is still relatively ‘hot’. Just this week, China’s online securities brokerage Tiger Brokers recently closed a Series C funding round, propelling the firm to join the ranks of China’s list of unicorns.

On-demand Chinese coffee startup Luckin Coffee also raised $200 million to further its fight with Starbucks for a larger slice of the burgeoning coffee market in China.

Read on to find out more interesting stories from last week, and feel free to tip us if you have news clue or you just want to talk with us, email us at [email protected] and we’re looking forward to hearing from you.

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