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Southeast Asia’s ride-hailing firm buys robo-advisory

Grab plans to launch retail wealth management and investment solutions in Southeast Asia.
Man texting while driving car

Singapore-based Grab Holdings has announced today that it has acquired B2B robo-advisory firm Bento for an undisclosed sum, according to a statement from the firm.

Grab, which was first founded in Malaysia in 2012 and later moved its headquarters to Singapore, started as a ride-hailing service, like Uber in the US. Later, it expanded its services to include food delivery and digital payments.

Following the acquisition, Bento will be rebranded as Grabinvest. Grabinvest, which will be under Grab Financial Group, will continue to be led by Chandrima Das, Bento’s founder and CEO, according to the statement. Before founding Bento in 2016, Das was previously Bank of Singapore’s head of managed investments sales and advisory.

Grabinvest plans to launch retail wealth management and investment solutions in Southeast Asia and aims to launch its first products in Singapore by the first half of this year, according to the statement. Grabinvest services will be included in the Grab app, along with the firm’s other services.

Grabinvest noted that it already has a retail fund management company license with the Monetary Authority of Singapore, which means that it can launch its products to retail investors in the Lion City.

“In Southeast Asia, there is a lack of access to affordable wealth management products and retirement planning solutions for most people,” Reuben Lai, senior managing director at Grab Financial, said in the statement.

Grab is already operating in a number of different Southeast Asian markets. Besides Malaysia and Singapore, it has a presence in Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar, according to the firm’s website.

Grabinvest will be competing against a number of other robo-advisors in Singapore, including Syfe, which was able to raise $3.8m in seed money last year from asset management executives, Smartly, which was acquired by Ho Chi Minh City-based Vina Capital, Stashaway, Money Owl and Endowus.

In December, Grab also announced that it is forming a consortium with Singaporean communications company Singtel to apply for a digital banking licence in Singapore. Grab will have a 60% stake in the consortium.

Part of the Mark Allen Group.