By Anshuman Daga
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Grab, Southeast Asia's biggest ridehailing firm, deepened its finance sector push on Tuesday by announcing that it will offer consumer loans services in Singapore and roll-out wealth management products in the fast-growing but crowded sector.
Backed by heavyweight investors including SoftBank Group Corp, Grab has already sunk its roots into financial services, food delivery and mobile payments over the last few years, even before the coronavirus pandemic hurt its mainstay ridehailing business.
It raised about $850 million in February from Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc and other investors for expanding its financial services and applied for an online Singapore banking licence together with Singapore Telecommunications Ltd.
"Consumer loans would be offered by our partner banks via a platform provided by us on the Grab app," Reuben Lai, senior managing director at Grab's financial business, told a news briefing.
Starting in Singapore later this year, before expanding to Malaysia and other countries, Grab's third-party consumer loans will typically be disbursed within two to four days after being approved, the company said.
Grab already offers working capital loans from its balance sheet to small and medium-sized enterprises in four countries.
Southeast Asia's most valuable startup with an estimated valuation of $14 billion announced a 5% reduction in staff numbers in June as it cut costs amid slower growth due to the pandemic.
The eight-year-old firm, which has access to e-money licenses in six major economies of Southeast Asia, says its app has seen 187 million mobile downloads.
Grab, which acquired a robo-advisory start-up in February, also said it will launch an investment service that allows users to invest small sums of money while spending on Grab's various services.
It has partnered with Singapore's Fullerton Fund Management and UOB Asset Management to offer access to fixed income funds.
(Reporting by Anshuman Daga; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)