Corporate News

Grab says users in Philippines see biggest time-savings in Asia

Posted on June 07, 2017

SINGAPORE -- Filipino commuters who use Grab to get around Metro Manila arrive at their destinations 70% faster than if they took public transportation options, the quickest rate recorded in the region, Southeast Asia’s leading ride-hailing platform said on Tuesday.

A heatmap showing the demand for Grab services in Southeast Asia is displayed during Grab’s fifth anniversary news conference in Singapore on June 6. -- REUTERS
Moreover, travel around the Philippine capital could be made easier for commuters if the company had access to anonymized mobile phone data tracking their trips, a Grab data scientist added.

“The greatest time-savings come from the Philippines (70% reduction in travel times) and Indonesia (64%), with both countries having thriving -- yet highly congested -- capital cities,” said the statement issued by the Singapore-headquartered company, which is marking its fifth anniversary this week.

Travel times on Grab in the Philippines -- the second country where it launched after Malaysia -- and Indonesia are shorter than the regional average which is 52%, the company said in the same statement, which cited findings of its five-year report entitled “Five Years of Moving SEA Together.”

Besides serving Metro Manila and Cebu, Grab is also available in 55 cities in seven countries including Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and, most recently, in Myanmar.

Based on the findings of its latest report, Grab has 45 million users, more than 930,000 driver-partners, and has 2.5 million daily rides.

Meanwhile, commutes in the Philippine capital could be eased further if the company could “track” data generated by mobiles phones used by travelers on tricycles, jeepneys, and buses, a Grab data scientist told BusinessWorld.

Once anonymized to protect individuals’ privacy rights, the data can help in “suggesting optimal routes and transport options,” said the Grab scientist. “It can also help them save money on their trips.”

“If that involves them using Grab [on their trips], then well and good,” the scientist said.

Although Grab already partnered with the World Bank to develop OpenTraffic last year, it still needs data from telecommunications companies in the Philippines, the scientist added.

Open Traffic is a nonprofit data platform that works with vehicle fleet operators, app developers, and governments to translate anonymous positions of vehicles and smartphones into real-time and historical traffic statistics, its five-year report said.

Besides giving commuters additional transport options to get around Metro Manila, Grab said its drivers in the Philippines earn 35% more “on a per hour basis compared to average worker wages across all of Grab’s markets.”

“Driver-partner incomes have been strongest in Vietnam (55% more than average wages) and Malaysia (48%)... compared to average worker wages across its markets,” the company said in the same statement.

The company has also “assisted more than two-thirds of its 640,000 drivers in opening bank accounts,” Grab said.

Moreover, through microfinance, Grab has also enabled drivers buy their own phones, Jerald Singh, the company’s product head said during the regional briefing which was attended by reporters from Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines.

However, officials were unable to disclose specific numbers for the countries it operates in.

In Malaysia, Grab has also endorsed some drivers to financial institutions, helping them get loans to buy their own cars, an official said.

As of December 2016, 10,000 drivers have already partnered with Grab in the Philippines, an official said. As of the same period, 7,000 drivers in the country have already signed up on Uber, which refused to comment on this story. While more than 24,000 cars have signed up on Uber, Grab said it was unable to disclose the number.

Since July last year, the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) stopped accepting applications for permits needed by Grab and Uber cars to operate.

When asked about this matter, Grab cofounder Tan Hooi Ling said that the company will continue to “resolve the issue” with the Philippine government. -- Robert J.A. Basilio