SEOUL/SINGAPORE: Samsung, the South Korean electronics giant, and Grab, Southeast Asia’s largest ride-hailing service, have joined forces in an initiative aimed at boosting the region’s digital economy.

The two companies announced in a joint statement that they have signed a multi-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) “to drive digital inclusion in Southeast Asia”.

As part of what they call a “wide-ranging strategic collaboration”, Grab and Samsung will develop customised solutions for the ride-hailing industry.

These include micro-financing schemes for Grab’s roughly 2.3m driver-partners, improved customer booking and in-car experiences, as well as measures to tackle the region’s fragmented mobile payments ecosystem.

Anthony Tan, CEO and co-founder of Singapore-based Grab, said that Southeast Asia is home to the world’s fastest growing emerging markets, but many consumers in smaller cities and towns do not have easy access to the digital economy.

“Mobile technology can bridge the infrastructural divide and make economic growth more inclusive,” he said.

“Samsung is one of the world’s most innovative technology companies, and we’re thrilled to partner with them to empower more people in Southeast Asia to improve their livelihoods and provide more digital services for everyone on the Grab platform,” he added.

Meanwhile, Sangchul Lee, President and CEO of Samsung Electronics, Southeast Asia & Oceania, said: “We are excited to be partnering Grab to provide consumers within the region an enhanced array of digital solutions for their everyday needs.

“Through this collaboration, we hope to explore how we can work together to tap into the massive growth opportunity of Southeast Asia’s digital economy.”

According to the statement, the strategic collaboration will be rolled out in phases across all countries in Southeast Asia that Grab operates in – and it follows successful pilots in a number of individual countries.

For example, an initiative piloted in Myanmar at the end of last year has enabled drivers who sign up with Grab to buy their own high quality Samsung device financed via a micro-loan from CB Bank.

As part of Grab’s Better 365 programme that aims to reduce costs for its drivers, this initiative will be rolled out to all of Grab’s driver-partners across Southeast Asia.

Elsewhere, Grab will introduce more GrabKiosks and GrabBooths in busy consumer hubs such as shopping malls, hotels and airports.

Already software has been installed in Indonesia and Myanmar – and this will be rolled out in Vietnam and Singapore in Q1 2018 and then other countries later this year.

Finally, Grab and Samsung plan to test in-car multimedia services, initially in Singapore, enabling “infotainment” content services via Samsung tablet devices.

Sourced from Samsung, Grab; additional content by WARC staff