Microsoft Invests In Grab To Bring Big Data & AI To Car-Sharing

Imagine stepping into your Grab and having an AI facial recognition scanner confirm your identity instantly.

That scenario may not be that far into our future.

As part of a 5-year strategic partnership, tech giant Microsoft will be investing an undisclosed sum into Southeast Asian ride-hailing firm Grab.

The ambitious crossover project will involve big data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology.

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That may sound like a whole lot of jargon, but let’s break down what that means for an average Grab user.

What’s in it for Grab users?

Grab will be using the investment from Microsoft to focus on improving users’ experience and safety.

Here’s what their collaborations may entail for us:

  • Mobile facial recognition with built-in AI for users who opt-in
    • No more checking of NRICs or ID numbers
    • AI will match driver & passenger identities to the reservation
  • Image recognition & computer vision technology will enhance the pick-up experience
    • Users can snap a photo of their current location
    • The picture will be translated into an actual address for the driver
  • Fraud detection services will prevent fraudulent Grab transactions
  • An AI chatbot available for Grab passengers
  • Machine learning will improve the quality of Grab’s maps
  • Grab Rewards might offer Microsoft gift cards in the future

Grab steps up fundraising

Grab had earlier announced that it planned to raise approximately US$3 billion by year-end.

So far, it has already raised US$2 billion, comprising of a number of prominent organisations, including Toyota, SoftBank and Chinese ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing.

Grab is likely to tap strategic and financial firms for the remainder of the funding, according to Reuters.

Grab’s lonely throne

Homegrown Grab has taken its business to 8 Southeast Asia countries in the past 6 years, offering ride-hailing, food delivery, financial and mobile payments services to consumers.

They seem to be doing well despite facing regulatory scrutiny in several markets after the Grab-Uber merger.

With Indonesian rival Go-Jek expanding in the region, could competition finally heat up?

Featured image from Facebook and Motor Authority.