Jack Ma is reportedly joining the funding round to pump S$2.076 billion into Grab.
And with this money, he could be buying Grab’s support in the war against fellow Chinese tech giant, Tencent.
According to Bloomberg, Ma may be teaming up with SoftBank Group Corp’s Masayoshi Son in an upcoming investment round. SoftBank is set to pledge S$1.3b billion while Ma finances the rest, either from Alibaba or Alipay’s Ant Financial.
This funding marks a major milestone for the Singapore-headquartered startup, eclipsing its September 2016 funding of S$1 billion. Grab will also be empowered to continue a cash-burning war against Uber and Go-Jek.
How the money will be used has yet to be reported, but it will likely go towards sustaining Grab’s war chest. This might be particularly important in Indonesia where Go-Jek leads the market.
During Grab’s 5th anniversary celebration on 6 June, CEO and co-founder Anthony Tan announced a new street-hailing system in Jakarta, Indonesia. Instead of pre-booking a vehicle, passengers can hail a GrabBike from the road first, then make a booking with the driver.
Grab is also in talks to bring street-hailing to Singapore, but there is no timeline yet.
Grab Against Tencent
Chinese tech giants Tencent and Alibaba have been locking horns on multiple levels for years now. This includes WeChat vs Laiwang, Paipai vs Taobao and Tenpay vs Alipay.
The renewed partnership between Grab and Jack Ma will allow him to extend Alipay’s reach across the markets where Grab has a presence. This ties in with his plans to build a global reach for Alipay.
In June 2016, Ant Financial teamed up with Grab to offer Singapore and Thailand the Alipay platform. Ant Financial has also made deals in Southeast Asia and US to control global Fintech services, with a grand plan to reach 2 billion customers by 2025.
If Grab does get roped in further, it will be joining the proxy war with Tencent, who has investments in Go-Jek and Didi (of which Alibaba also has equity).
Seeing that Grab would have to juggle this alongside its Uber fight, it would be interesting to watch how it does so.
Featured Image Credit: South China Morning Post