Grab’s E-Wallet Will Come With a Mastercard-Enabled Prepaid Card By 2019

Grab’s E-Wallet Will Come With a Mastercard-Enabled Prepaid Card By 2019

by October 25, 2018

Grab, which started out as a Southeast Asian ride-hailing platform that has since delved into “super-app” ambitions, announces a partnership with Mastercard. The pair will be issuing joint prepaid cards geared for the Southeast Asian market.

Grab will be issuing both virtual and physical prepaid cards out of this partnership, which will be usable anywhere that accepts Mastercard. This, Grab opines, means that GrabPay of the first e-wallets hailing from this region to go global.

How The Grab/Mastercard Partnership Will Work

Consumers across the region will be able to apply for the prepaid card directly from the Grab app, and receive a virtual card in their GrabPay wallet in their Grab app. Grab will also offer a physical prepaid card, enabled by both NFC and EMV chip technology.

You will be able to reload your Mastercard Grab card through the usual digital methods, or by handing physical cash over to Grab agents like drivers and merchants that are on the GrabPay platform.

For now, the relationship between the GrabPay e-wallet and the Mastercard-powered prepaid card will remain to be seen, especially since Grab has confirmed that there will be virtual versions of the card. The obvious theory is that GrabPay wallets become the virtual version of the Mastercard-linked account, where you can make your cash deposits or make payments. Such a move would increase the usability of the GrabPay e-wallet to any terminal that supports Mastercard.

For all intents and purposes, the Grab Mastercard will be a physical extension of a virtual wallet that exists in your Grab app.

Grabbing a Hold of Unbanked Populations Across Southeast Asia

GrabPay is currently available in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and soon, the Phillippines which showcases that the wallet has a real case for their stated target of the unbanked populations.

Individuals living in regions with a higher cash reliance can now gain access to a Mastercard ownership, which could grant access to discounts, as well as the cashless lifestyle in stores that may not offer the specific e-wallet that they have in their phones but has a terminal that accepts Mastercard.

Regions like the Philippines (34% banked), Myanmar (26% banked) and Vietnam (31% banked) could be prime targets for Grab’s Mastercard play.

Meanwhile, regions like Singapore and Malaysia, in particular, have seen a potential userbase balking at the idea of an e-wallet. After all, just handing over a debit or credit card can seem much handier and familiar than having to boot up an e-wallet app, especially for the higher banked populations in these countries, compared to many other Southeast Asian countries.

Malaysia has a banked population of 92% out of its 24 million adults, while out of Singapore has a higher 98% banked adults rate.

For them, having a more familiar card that is usable in most retail spaces (sans hawker stalls) could prove an advantage for GrabPay to rise above other e-wallets.

Grab’s foray rings similarly to AirAsia’s BigPay from Malaysia, which is also an e-wallet that is accompanied by a Mastercard-enabled card.

Grab and Mastercard expect to offer the card in the first half of 2019, starting in Singapore and the Philippines.

Featured image via Grab Vietnam