Grab is putting a prepaid Mastercard within its ride-sharing app

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Grab and Mastercard have formed a partnership extending the reach of the ride-hailing app by making a prepaid card available to Grab’s 110 million users across Southeast Asia.

Prepaid and virtual accounts will be available within the Grab app next year beginning in Singapore and the Philippines, with other countries to follow, the companies said. This echoes the approach Barclays took for its cobranded Uber credit card, which riders can apply for and manage within the Uber app.

“Grab users who typically use the app to pay for rides and food can now shop online or in stores anywhere Mastercard is accepted, opening up new opportunities for consumers and merchants,” said Reuben Lai, senior managing director of Grab Financial, during an interview at Money20/20 in Las Vegas.

In many other regards, Grab is ahead of Uber in offering financial services. The Grab Financial platform launched in March to offer payments, rewards and loyalty services as well as insurance and financing to consumers, micro merchants and small businesses.

By working with Grab, Mastercard sees an opportunity to capture expanding electronic payments volume from the middle class in Southeast Asia with whom Grab is most popular, said Rama Sridhar, Mastercard’s executive vice president of digital and emerging partnerships and new payment flows, in the interview.

What’s equally important is the data Mastercard and Grab will gather from users that typically operate primarily with cash, Sridhar said.

“We’re very interested in gaining insights into how consumers in this region spend money, which should help us deliver more sophisticated financial services there,” Sridhar said.

Grab users load cash to the app via 8 million participating drivers, merchants and retail agents in eight Southeast Asia countries including Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia.

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