Microsoft is investing in Grab

Microsoft will inject an undisclosed amount in ride-hailer Grab as part of a strategic partnership, the firms said in a joint statement today.

Grab will also use Microsoft products like its cloud platform Azure, as well as tap the US tech giant’s expertise in artificial intelligence and other areas.

“Our partnership with Grab opens up new opportunities to innovate in both a rapidly evolving industry and growth region,” said Peggy Johnson, executive vice president at Microsoft.

“We look forward to collaborating with Microsoft in the pursuit of enhancing on-demand transportation and seamless online-to-offline experiences for users,” added Grab president Ming Maa.

The “deep tech” projects they will be working on include:

  • Mobile facial recognition with built-in AI for verifying the identities of drivers and passengers
  • Natural language processing for real-time translations and a chatbot that passengers can engage with
  • Machine learning to personalize the user experience
  • Image recognition and computer vision technologies to improve passenger pickups (For example, riders will be able to take a photo of their current location and have it translated into an actual address for the driver)

Other forms of collaboration involve fraud detection, integration of Microsoft Outlook for seamless bookings, in-car solutions and rewards.

Grab recently bagged US$2 billion from Toyota and was reported this week to be raising another US$500 million. Now valued at around US$11 billion, the company has raised more than US$6 billion to date.

The investments would be a boon as the company repositions itself as an “everyday app” with a wide range of online-to-offline services beyond its core ride-hailing offering.

Grab is present in eight countries across Southeast Asia. It also offers food delivery and courier services, and owns a mobile wallet called GrabPay.

Archrival Go-Jek is said to be nearing the close of a new round worth US$2 billion to fuel its own regional ambitions.

Reference: Techinasia