Race to the Bottom – Grab’s Incentives Against Uber

All across SouthEast Asia, Grab, (formerly known as GrabTaxi or MyTeksi), the homegrown taxi booking company based in Malaysia, is in a fierce battle for market share against the American company Uber.


At its founding, Grab functioned simply as a way to summon a traditional taxi. Riders were charged the standard taxi booking rate while drivers paid a portion of the booking rate back to Grab. The benefit was to minimize time waiting to hail a cab off the street or wait in taxi queues.


Upon seeing the success of Uber throughout SEAsia, with its Uber X – a service where anyone with a car can earn money driving passengers- Grab decided to get into this more lucrative business. Called Grab Car, this new feature functions more like the traditional Uber service. The cars booked through this option are not registered taxis but rather private drivers in private and rented cars. Instead of earning a small portion of a taxi booking fee, Grab has the added benefit of earning a larger percentage of the entire fare. (Currently, it is 20%).


How Grabcar and Uber differ

One key feature that differentiates Grabcar from Uber is the fixed prices of Grabcar. While Uber fares include time, distance, etc, in the total fare, Grabcar allows the passenger to see a flat fee for the ride before booking. These fares vary and are sometimes less than traditional cabs while other times they can be a bit higher. In addition, Grabcar was cash based while Uber was credit card based though both services now offer both options.



As both services are relatively new, and conceptually new to passengers, there are a very limited amount of passengers and drivers in the regions that  Uber and Grab compete in. Both companies spend lots of resources offering promotions for riders and incentives for drivers in an effort to grab market share. It’s also worth to note that most drivers and passengers have both apps on their phone and move between apps depending on the promos and incentives offered. Therefore,  since the market is not large enough for both Uber and Grabcar to grow profitably, this bonfire of cash will eventually bleed one of them dry -or at least convince one of them to exit.


While the offers for each service change, sometimes on a weekly basis, here are the promotions and incentives that Grab is currently running across the region


  • Passengers receive $8 for signing up with a referral code (if you don’t have one use this link
  • Passengers receive their first 10 rides free within the CBD if they use GrabPay
  • Drivers receive a minimum of $23 per ride during the hours of 6:30 AM to 10AM
  • Drivers only have to pay 10% to Grab if they make more than 101 trips in a week

Kuala Lumpur

  • Drivers have a bonus structure depending on how many trips they make
Bonus Hours* Daily target fare collection Guaranteed fare per job
Monday till Thursday Friday*** Saturday*** Sunday
Tier 1 >RM 135 >RM 265 >RM 195 >RM 160 RM27 per job
Tier 2 >RM 90 >RM 185 >RM 130 >RM 110 RM23 per job
Tier 3 >RM 55 >RM 120 >RM 90 >RM 85 RM19 per job
Tier 4 >RM 25 >RM 50 >RM 40 >RM 35 RM16 per job


Non Bonus Hours** Weekly target fare collection Guaranteed fare per job
Only 1 tier >RM 450 RM15 per job



Incentives depend on the size of the car and the time


  • Larger car: 100 THB per trip (6:00 to 10:00 and 16:00 to 23:00 local time on Monday – Friday) and a bonus of up to 2,000 baht / week.
  • Smaller car: 40 THB per trip (6:00 to 10:00 and 16:00 to 23:00 local time on Monday – Friday) and a bonus of up to 1,500 baht  on weekends