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Uber rival Grab acquires Indian mobile payments startup iKaaz
Photo Credit: Reuters

Southeast Asian ride-hailing firm Grab has acquired Bengaluru-based payments startup iKaaz to help expand its digital payments platform GrabPay.

The flexibility and scalability of iKaaz’s technology make it suitable for Southeast Asia’s diverse payments landscape, Grab, which competes with Uber Technologies, said in a statement.

The company, however, did not disclose the deal value.

The iKaaz team will join Grab’s R&D centre in Bengaluru.

“iKaaz has served merchants and partners across different industries from parking lots and airports to retail stores and hotels. This set of offline payments features offers the flexibility needed to tailor the GrabPay platform to each country and partner in Southeast Asia,” said Jason Thompson, managing director of GrabPay, Southeast Asia.

“By partnering with Grab, we now have an opportunity to see how our tech can improve the lives of Southeast Asia’s more than 620 million people and its growing digital economy,” said Soma Sundaram, founder of iKaaz.

Grab, formerly known as GrabTaxi, operates one of the largest transportation networks in Southeast Asia and is one of the most frequently used mobile platforms in the region with up to 1.5 million daily bookings, according to the company.

A year ago, Grab—which was founded in 2012—launched its top-up service GrabPay Credits and later released GrabRewards, a loyalty programme, for which it signed up more than 300 merchants. In Singapore, the platform recently launched its peer-to-peer payments services as well as in-store and in-restaurant payments services.

In July 2017, Grab was reportedly looking to raise $2.5 billion in a record fundraising round from its Chinese peer Didi Chuxing and Japanese internet conglomerate SoftBank at a valuation of more than $6 billion. To support its rapid growth, Grab acquired Indonesian payment service Kudo earlier this year.

Grab formed a global alliance with Didi Chuxing of China, Lyft of US and India-based Ola against San Francisco-based rival Uber. The alliance allowed the customers of one firm to use the cab-hailing services of the others through the same app.

iKaaz, which is run by iKaaz Software Pvt Ltd, was founded in 2014 by Soma Sundaram, who has two decades of experience in the software industry, particularly in payments, social networking and open source domains. Previously, he worked with Nokia and Obopay.

In January 2014, iKaaz raised an undisclosed amount in seed round of funding led by Ananda Kallugadde, managing director of NeoBytes Software Solutions, with participation from a group of other unnamed investors.

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