GrabNow service to target street-hail market
After progressively rolling out ride-hailing services for private-hire cars, buses and vans, Grab is moving directly into the street-hail market with new service GrabNow.
Introduced yesterday, it allows passengers who flag a GrabTaxi to link their Grab apps with cabbies.
The 10-second process allows the metered fare to be paid with cash or GrabPay with no additional charges, and lets riders earn rewards, said GrabTaxi head Melvin Vu.
The link-up with cabbies is done through Google Nearby, which allows devices to interact within 30m of each other, or by keying in a six-digit passcode issued from the driver's app.
Participating GrabTaxi drivers can be identified by a special GrabNow decal.
Mr Vu said GrabNow was launched to win over the street-hail market, which makes up 70 to 75 per cent of the taxi rides here.
Calling the service an "attractive proposition for commuters to go cashless", he said: "With street hails, you don't get any perks. GrabNow allows whatever you spend on the taxi ride to be accrued."
Reward points on Grab's loyalty programme can be exchanged for such perks as discount codes.
Said Mr Vu: "It's really up to the customer, but we are trying to push GrabPay via GrabNow. This is in line with Singapore trying to push for a cashless society."
The feature is available in the Grab app for Android users now, and will be rolled out to iOS users by this week.
Recognising that taxi drivers prefer cash payments, Grab also launched an instant payout feature that allows drivers with POSB or DBS bank accounts to instantly transfer fares collected via GrabPay into their bank accounts.
Grab aims to roll out this feature to other local bank account holders in coming months.
Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) economist and senior lecturer Walter Theseira said commuters generally take the first street-hail taxi available as convenience is a priority.
"I doubt that the payment method itself is sufficient to convince most commuters to wait for another street-hail taxi," he said.
"Besides driving adoption of the Grab payment platform, I expect the other reason would be to get more data on commuter street-hail behaviour - that data is helpful for operations and strategy," he added.
SUSS lecturer Park Byung Joon, who specialises in urban transport, said Grab's business model draws inspiration from Chinese company Didi Chuxing, which ousted Uber from China's market with its private-hire car and taxi fleets.
"They may try to emulate what Didi did in China," he said.