As more new ride-hailing apps enter the fray, like Filo, Jugnoo, Ryde, Go-Jek, and the highly-dubious Arcade City, Grab Singapore continues unfazed to make progress on its acquisition of Uber.
In a Grab event earlier today (7 May), Lim Kell Jay, Head of Grab Singapore, announced a series of updates on its ride-hailing platform which includes the addition of three new services.
This morning, Grab users received a notification on the app for GrabAssist, a new service for passengers with mobility needs, as they described.
If you found the name familiar, this is because GrabAssist is the equivalent to uberASSIST, which will cease operating by the end of today.
Lim explained that by 2030, one in four Singaporeans will be aged 65 and above, and it is estimated that we are four times more likely to face disability issues when we reach those ages.
So, the implementation of GrabAssist comes as a way to meet the needs of families with an elderly or a person with disability, providing them with a more comfortable travel option.
GrabAssist vehicles can accommodate foldable wheelchairs, walkers, and collapsible scooters, and the fleet is served by around 1,000 private-hire car and taxi driver-partners who have been trained by the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC).
Drivers certified by the AIC have received theoretical and practical training in transferring these passengers in and out of the cars safely, in dementia awareness, and in hygiene and emergency preparedness.
GrabAssist is priced higher than JustGrab, with a lower commission rate of 10 per cent to reimburse drivers for their time spent on training and supporting passengers.
Lim then introduced the GrabCar Plus service, a premium economy service to cater to passengers who prefer to ride more comfortably but at an economical price.
Passengers using the service will ride on cars that are more spacious and newer (used less than three years), and are equipped with basic in-car amenities like mobile phone chargers, air freshener, and tissue boxes.
They will be offered the highest-rated drivers who have more than 98 per cent positive feedback.
GrabCar Plus fares will be priced between the GrabCar and JustGrab services and Grab is looking to launch this service by the end of this month.
Finally, the GrabFamily service gets an extension to include the ferrying of one to three-year-olds with the introduction of GrabFamily (Ages 1 - 3).
Previously, the service had only catered to families with children of ages four to seven with cars that have a mifold child booster seat.
Now, passengers can expect the car to come equipped with an IMMI Go car seat for a toddler, and drivers on this service have been trained on the proper installation and use of the seat throughout the journey.
GrabFamily (Ages 1 - 3) will be priced similarly to Uber Car Seat, and will be launched by the end of June.
Grab is encouraging all former Uber Car Seat drivers to sign up for this new service for additional income opportunities.
Lim shared that drivers will receive their first booster seat for free from Grab when they sign up for this service.
"The new services will make shared transport more accessible for different segments of community," he said.
"We want to help eliminate the need for vehicle ownership, provide more income opportunities for driver-partners, and serve the community across multiple aspects of their daily lives - commute, eat, food delivery and pay."
Driving Home Their Mission
Lim went on to explain that these additions are steps to achieving their goal of making "transportation accessible to everybody".
He likens it to a pyramid model, where at the top, passengers who prefer to travel in luxury can choose to use GrabCar Premium.
At the second level, people who would like more comfort and privacy can use GrabCar Plus, and in the next level which is more economical, there are JustGrab and GrabTaxi.
Going further down the pyramid, there are GrabHitch, which he described as a service being more "social", and GrabShare.
Catered to the masses segment, there are GrabShuttle, GrabShuttle Plus, and GrabCycle, he explained.
Lim shared that the improvement of the app's user interface is just one of the ways the company illustrates its promise to improve their services, and even remove any of them should they become irrelevant.
He explained that they decluttered the iOS app interface so users can see clearly the necessary information. Android users can expect the updated app interface to come soon.
As their rewards programme, GrabRewards, grows, seeing more merchants and partners coming onboard, they thought it was necessary to make the app more intuitive.
In response to users' behaviour, they made checking for past transactions straightforward as they found that GrabPay users tend to check their transaction history as their first action upon accessing the function.
Wrapping up the last of their updates, Lim shared some of the company's initiatives that they have kickstarted for their driver-partners under the 'Better 365' campaign here.
One of the initiatives include giving out university scholarships of up to $10,000, up to 10 recipients, and awarding bursaries that range from $350 to $500.
The university scholarships and bursaries have affected up to 1,000 children of driver-partners, according to Lim.
Grab has also introduced the 'Passenger No Show' feature which "drivers are excited about" because it allows them to indicate when a passenger doesn't show up after making a booking, and that causes them plenty of frustration.
In five minutes, if the passenger doesn't show up, drivers can then use this feature and move on to their next job. This lowers idle time and increases productivity for drivers, thereby maximising their income earned.
On the Auto Accept feature, Lim said this is more of a safety measure as it reduces the need for drivers to interact with the app while on the road.
With the Instant Cash Out feature, this improves cash flow for their drivers as they get their non-cash earnings credited into their bank account "within seconds".
He later clarified that drivers can only use this feature twice in a 24-hour period after studying drivers' behaviours.
With that, he explained that all of these tie into their three mission statements.
They are: to provide the safest transport platform for their drivers and passengers, to make transport accessible for everybody, and to improve the lives of their partners.
Addressing The Sentiments To The Updates
We learned that about half of GrabAssist's drivers are from the Uber-equivalent service, and that the number of GrabFamily drivers "are in the thousands".
The Grab executive said that "majority or almost all of [Uber's] active drivers", which he estimates to be 80 per cent, have already transitioned to Grab.
He also revealed that Grab is more than happy to welcome drivers from Lion City Rentals.
As the Uber transport app will cease to operate by the end of today, Lim said the Uber Eats side of the business will be integrated fully soon while its own food delivery service, GrabFood, soft launches in Singapore.
On the lack of promo codes for Grab users and the dwindling incentives for drivers, Lim said that it has been "trending down" even before the announcement of the acquisition.
Now, these promo codes take on a different form - in the form of GrabRewards, he explained.
"The discounts you get from your Grab rides are still there. You just need to redeem them from the rewards catalogue," he added, and thinks that "it's more exciting that way".
Lim shared that Grab will ultimately want to make GrabPay as good as using cash, perhaps a hint to the future development of their payments platform and in the FinTech space.
On whether it will enter the pre-booking space, Lim said, it's one of the services they are exploring, but they're more concerned about making it work from a user experience standpoint, and if they were to introduce it, it wouldn't be made available to all their services.
This article was first published in Vulcan Post