Early Tuesday morning (November 16), thousands of Grab users in Southeast Asia were affected by an unprecedented disruption to the Grab superapplication.
Messages and comments of confusion, anger and desperation from angry and panicked customers filled social media as they demanded an explanation from their respective Grab entities for the unexpected downtime.
Users have collectively complained about the inability to search for rides, choose pick-up or drop-off locations, or book rides on the super app. The drivers were unable to receive jobs, including GrabFood delivery men.
A quick check by Tech Wire Asia found that the official Twitter Grab accounts for Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia had all released information on service disruptions as early as 7 a.m. (GMT +8) this morning, indicating that downtime was a widespread regional problem.
On Twitter, “Grab” was all the rage, with over 115,000 tweets about the disruption at the time of writing.
It looks like this is the first time this has happened to Grab’s superapp – or any superapps in the region, for that matter.
Grab, formerly MyTeksi, was first designed and deployed as a simple taxi booking application in 2012 in Malaysia.
It is now a decacorn, and has significantly expanded its offerings to include a multitude of services in what it considers a “superapp.”
They include food delivery, grocery delivery, express delivery, buy it now, pay later (BNPL) and multiple insurance and finance services through its super app.
This superapplication Grab disruption comes shortly after the company released net losses of almost US $ 1 billion (US $ 988 million) in its report on third quarter 2021 results.
In a press release, the company cited a “decline in mobility due to severe restrictions in Vietnam” for its revenue of $ 157 million, down 9% year-on-year .
With barely a month to access its American listing via a US $ 40 billion SPAC deal with Altimeter Growth Corp, this negative income performance could make investors uncomfortable.
Nonetheless, the company believes opportunities for digital services will continue to expand in Southeast Asia, citing a recent report from Google, Temasek and Bain on the SEA digital economy which is expected to reach $ 1,000 billion by now. 2030.
Is it over for the monopoly?
Grab has been considered a monopoly in the ridesharing and transportation space for years, ever since they bought out their biggest competitor, Uber, in 2018. This resulted in a fine of SDG 6.4 million for anti-competition by a Singapore consumer watchdog. .
Today, competitors are emerging, with its main rival for the Indonesian market, Gojek merging with Indonesian The e-commerce giant Tokopedia to form GoTo.
GoTo should pose a threat to Grab’s weakened presence in Indonesia, as well as in the SEA region.
With plans to be in the ridesharing, food delivery and fintech space, GoTo could possibly the biggest operator of these services in the SEA region.
In August this year, the airline Air Asia unveiled the Air Asia superapplication, with a new carpooling service AirAsia Ride for users in Malaysia.
Angry users in Malaysia had resorted to AirAsia Ride and several other small players, due to the extended downtime this morning.
This turn of events reflects the heavy reliance of Southeast Asians on Grab, as the decacorne’s main source of income comes from carpooling.
Along with a dearth of other reliable players, this is indicative of the dangers of monopolizing the all-important carpooling space, especially when service disruptions of this magnitude occur.