So GrabPay appointed a new CTO, Vikas Agrawal, who was previously with Paytm. Agrawal is to be based in Bangalore, more than 3000 kilometres away from Grab’s headquarters in Singapore.

This came less than a month after Grab (finally) filled in its own CTO position, appointing Theo Vassilakis, a Microsoft & Google veteran. Vassilakis will be based in Singapore.

Theo Vassilakis

GrabPay should theoretically have a very good card to play: supported by the largest ride-hailing platform (i.e. the most plausible mobile payment use case) in Southeast Asia, with unlimited war chest from Softbank.

However, it has thus far not leveraged its advantages effectively.

  1. A recent regulatory enforcement in Indonesia has caused it to fall further behind GoPay, widening a gap which was already significant;
  2. GrabPay does not have a payment licence in most of the countries Grab operates. It recently secured a payment licence in Malaysia, but then Alibaba invested in Touch N Go;
  3. Its Singapore operations team is acquiring merchants, the lowest value activity in the payment food chain.

In this context, the new power dynamics between the two CTOs are going to be very interesting.

Let’s see.

Thanks for reading The Low Down (TLD), the blog by the team at Momentum Works. Got a different perspective or have a burning opinion to share? Let us know at [email protected].