At that time, it had committed US$100 million in the facility, which was mainly used to hire some 200 engineers and data scientists. Just two years later, Grab is expanding again in Singapore, on the back of its rapid growth as one of Southeast Asia’s most prominent start-ups.
Using Singapore as its headquarters and launchpad to Asian markets, Grab has expanded operations to 87 cities across seven countries with over 1.2 million drivers in its network. It has also expanded its focus beyond transportation and into e-payments. In August 2017, Grab launched a peer-to-peer fund transfer feature to enable consumers to transfer credits to one another. It will further develop the technology to enable payment for merchant services outside transportation.
The company also made headlines when it received more than US$2 billion – the highest ever for the region - in its latest round of funding from China’s Didi Chuxing, Japan’s Softbank and Toyota Tsusho Corporation.
To support its efforts to expand market share across Asia, Grab has announced that it will double its R&D space in Singapore. In 2017, the company will move to an office space of almost 100,000 sq ft. in the central business district. The new R&D lab remains the largest among the six research facilities Grab has set up around the world.
This reflects Grab’s interest in leveraging Singapore’s capabilities as a world-class transportation hub. The city-state has been an early adopter of cutting-edge technologies such as the Internet of Things and smart vehicles to create a smart, car-lite transport system, where the use of shared rides and shared vehicles can help ease traffic congestion and carbon emissions.
Grab will be turning to Singapore’s strong talent pool to find engineers who can help create new mobility services. These include developing services that improve user experience across Asia’s culturally diverse markets, and new payment technologies such as mobile payments.