Grab (Taxi) – Asia’s Taxi Booking App

Grab taxi

Grab (formerly known as Grabtaxi) is one of the largest taxi hailing mobile application offered in 22 Asian cities across six countries including Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia. Grab is a smartphone booking app that seeks to change the taxi industry by making it a safer and more convenient mean of transport.

The basic idea of Grabtaxi was similar to the traditional phone call-booking; you click the app, pay a booking fee, and a taxi cab will arrive at your location. Additionally, Grab is one of the fastest growing booking services for motorbikes, private cars and taxis in Asia. It has been active in the Southeast Asian region  since 2011 with the mission of transforming the taxi industry into a dynamic force to help people find taxis, drivers and fare estimations at their doorstep.

Grab’s vision is to build trust so that rider can have a secure journey. By March 2015, the total number of Grab application users was 3.8 million along with 75,000 registered drivers in the channel. The app can be downloaded from Google Play, BlackBerry World and Apple iOS.

Grab is the largest ride-hailing network which solves crucial transportation challenges for 620 million people in Southeast Asia. Its  booking service through mobile app makes transport a real freedom in terms of Grab Taxi, Grabcar and Grabbike. This smartphone technology matches passengers with their taxi drivers automatically.

 Grabbike offers motorbikes in more crowded cities like Jakarta and private cars in places like Singapore. Grab is growing because it improves and takes care of the lives of the stakeholders. It ensures safe ride leading from driver security training and vehicle security checks to accident insurance for passengers, drivers and government partners.

Grab follows three business principles:

  • speed
  • certainty
  • safety



Grab, formerly called My Teksi, was first founded in Malaysia in 2011 and continued its expansion to Philippines in 2013 and to Thailand and Singapore the same year. In 2014 the service was launched in Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City) and Indonesia (Jakarta) and later that year the company rolled out their new GrabCar service (similar to Uber) in Singapore and Malaysia.

Grab was founded by two graduates of Harvard Business School, Tan Hooi Ling and Anthony Tan. The idea for the app came to Tan when he realized that it is hard to travel by cab in Malaysia. Malaysian taxis are often unreliable, less safe and fares can fluctuate quite a bit.

Tan drafted a business plan that won support from angel investors including Singapore’s sovereign fund: Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd.

The idea for the company came when Tan was the head of marketing at Tan Chong Motor Holdings Bhd. Kuala Lumpur, the only distributor of Malaysia’s Nissan Motor Co. run by his father, Tan Heng. Tan said a “We started GrabTaxi because the taxi system in Malaysia was a mess. Drivers weren’t making enough money and hated their jobs. Women couldn’t go around safely. We needed to do something about it.”


The key figures behind the success of Grab are: Anthony Tan (CEO), Aaron Gill (Head of Product), Kevin Lee (Vice-President, Data and Growth), Arul Kumaravel (Vice-President, Engineering), Cheryl Goh (Vice-President, Regional Marketing) and Wei Zhu (CTO).


How it works:

When booking,  users are required to specify their destination (To) and location (From) while using the app. Then the GPS system will locate the taxi driver matching the place of passenger. Once the booking process has been completed, the detailed summary of charges are shown, the price varies according to location and time. The driver in turn can either accept or reject the request. Commuter’s and driver’s mobile numbers are shared by the app to communicate. 

Grab caters to individual needs. It provides a wide range of vehicle service to its users. Those passengers who wish to travel in luxury can hire BMW 5-series with 4-seater option GrabCar+ Premium, those who want to bring their whole family for ride can choose 13-seater option GrabCar and budget conscious passengers can select 4-seater option GrabCar Economy.

The app is accessible on Android, BlackBerry, iOS and Window phone.


Here is an easy guide to learn how Grab works:

Step 1 – Book a Taxi

After downloading the app from Google Play, Set pick up and drop off points and tap next.

Step 2 – Choose GrabTaxi

Select taxi type first, its distance and fare will be made visible later on.

Step 3 – Get a Driver

Grab will find the nearest available driver.

Step 4 – Track your Driver

Acknowledge driver’s arrival time, location and more details.

Step 5 – Share a Ride

At this stage Grab allows your acquaintances to follow your ride on their own apps



During the launch period Tan had to go to each door to ask taxi companies to use is product. Finally, when he approached the fifth taxi company, he saw light at the end of the tunnel. That company operating a fleet of 30 cars granted him a chance. Then the company struggled and raised its revenue in 12 months up to US$90 million from hedge fund Tiger Global, a famous Chinese Capital firm (GGV Capital), Vertex Venture Holding (Singapore’s Temasek Holdings fund) and more.

By 2014, it raised series D round of US$250 million invested by SoftBank Corp, a largest investment made in any  Southeast Asian company. The aggregate investment that Grab received over a period of last 14 months is US$340 million. By March 2015, Grab has been named as third most well-funded setup in Southeast Asian region with $340 million funding at Stage D. It has 1.2 million downloads which claims to be managing one booking per every eight second or 10,000 bookings per day.


Among Grab’s US based competitors, Uber has the best user interface and overall experience. Via, Lyft and Sidecar look reliable and more professional on-demand services but they have very high fares. Unlike Uber, Lyft does not work outside USA. Uber is fundamentally ill-suited to countries like Philippines where credit card payment is lacking because Uber only accepts payment via credit card in most places.

Uber’s has potential licensing issues that could halt growth as its legal standing has been challenged in 52 countries where it operates. Luis Buenaventura, a cofounder at,says: “In May 2015, Italy banned the UberPop service as being “unfairly competitive.” In June 2015, police arrested the Uber country directors for France and charged them with “enabling taxi-driving by nonprofessional drivers, among other crimes of entrepreneurship.”

Grab unlike its competitors allows flexible payment choices including credit card payment and cash transaction after each ride. It taps into a relatively large customer base on an average account of 620, 000 monthly users of Grab App.

GrabTaxi has partnership with Southeast Asian consumer brands such as Wonda Coffee and Kitkat, in Singapore it is partnered with Air Asia and in Indonesia with Lippo Group to mark its services. In 2015, it established a $100 million  R & D centre in Singapore to improve its market value.

Grab provides people 4 types of partnerships for marketing: Brand (building brand through marketing campaigns), Event (personalizing events with customized codes for affordable ride), Fleet (growing business by being fleet partners) and Venue (transforming premises with Grab venue application to ensure multiple bookings).

For the sake of Grab users here are the 24 hours customer service numbers available in Grab countries:

                              Customer no.                 Websites

Malaysia              +6221 80648777


Philippines           +63 02 8837100

Singapore             (65) 6570 3925 

Indonesia              +6221 8064 8777

Thailand                (66) 2 0212500  

Vietnam                  (08) 7108 7108 


Lastly, Grab offers job openings from all over the world in Grab offering countries like Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand to help people revolutionize transportation.  Amir Iswadi, the Head of Technical Support at Grab, says: “We pride ourselves in being the best by understanding the customers needs, and providing excellent support. Your Problem is my Problem.”

Grab makes ride easy, comfortable and enjoyable. People no longer have to wait at taxi stand, they can book taxi in seconds to save their precious time. Travelling by GrabTaxi is efficient, safe, certain and licensed.