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Interviews

Wui Ngiap Foo, Grab: Cashless payments could cause increased chargebacks in 2017

Friday 9 December 2016 | 10:57 AM CET

We anticipate two major trends for 2017 that may impact Grab’s business -- chargebacks and declines linked to syndicated fraud

Could you introduce Grab to our readers? What types of services do you provide and how did this start?

Grab is Southeast Asia’s leading ride-hailing platform and largest home-grown technology company with more than 27 million user downloads supported by more than half a million of drivers and available across 34 cities.

Investing in a cashless payment service allows Grab to deliver a more seamless ride experience to our drivers and passengers by removing the friction from cash payments. Furthermore, Grab has the opportunity to be the region’s leading payments platform as we are one of the region’s most frequently used mobile platforms. Since launching our GrabPay in-app mobile payment solution in January 2016, GrabPay volumes have seen continuous double digit growth, month-on-month.

Grab began as a taxi-hailing app in Malaysia less than five years ago in response to the lack of reliable and safe public transport options. Based on market opportunities and people’s needs, we steadily grew our core product platform and now offer six distinct multi-modal services: GrabTaxi for taxi-hailing, GrabCar using private cars, GrabBike for quick rides on motorbikes, GrabHitch our social carpooling service together with GrabShare for commercial carpooling as well as our on-demand delivery service GrabExpress.

This year you have received the Florin Award for Best Fraud Prevention solution. What, would you say, are the main elements that make Grab stand out from other services and enable it to address payment fraud issues in order to protect customers?

To establish trust and security, Grab worked closely with best-in-class payment providers to implement global standards and practices as well as invested in building our own proprietary risk and fraud detection system that we affectionately called TED. Once TED was live just before the official launch of GrabPay, we were soon able to stabilise, secure and maintain a low fraud rate in line with industry best practices around fraud baselines.

Today, we use TED to detect fraudulent user behaviour such as attempts to book fake rides using suspicious credit card transactions as well as predict which accounts have a high potential for declines or chargebacks. These early preventive measures have been able to prevent fraud from affecting our payments ecosystem. What’s worth noting is we were able to simultaneously maintain a low fraud rate while we continue scaling GrabPay to involve more customers, introduce new local payment methods, and take on higher payment volumes.

What are your biggest markets, in terms of payments and bookings processed?

Southeast Asia is an incredibly diverse region of 620 million people, which is more than twice the population of the US. Our two largest markets are Indonesia, the most populated and biggest country in the region, and the highly developed and affluent city-state of Singapore.

Southeast Asia is still largely a cash-based transaction economy. What role does Grab play in accelerating the region’s move towards becoming a cashless society?

Grab is one of the most frequently used mobile platforms within the region with up to 1.5 million daily bookings. As such, we can play a key role in accelerating Southeast Asia’s move to a cashless digital economy. To do this, we have to enable local payment methods that are already trusted and widely used by our consumers.

We accept physical cash as well as a variety of cashless payment options on GrabPay including credit and debit cards, AliPay in Thailand and Singapore, Android Pay in Singapore, and Mandiri e-Cash -- a popular mobile money service by Bank Mandiri -- in Indonesia.

As a sizeable proportion of people in the region have limited access to banking services, we launched GrabPay Credits enabling customers to easily purchase top-ups to their GrabPay balance at a variety of funding locations including local convenience store franchises of 7-Eleven, Alfamart and Lawson, bill payment centres in the Philippines and popular mobile money services like Doku Wallet, GCash and Dragonpay.

While expanding GrabPay across your markets, what trends (including threats) in matters of risk and compliance have you observed and what do you foresee for the upcoming year?

As we approach 2017, we anticipate two major trends that may impact Grab’s business in our region -- chargebacks and declines linked to syndicated fraud. Chargebacks are not a new trend for many companies. However, for Southeast Asia, as more businesses embrace cashless payments, we expect its proportion to increase if we do not stay vigilant. Syndicated fraud is also getting more sophisticated, organised and localised in origin – there is a higher ability to quickly execute many fraudulent transactions in rapid succession that results in declines and bad debt. Grab is placing more active safeguards to screen our transactions.

From a compliance point of view, working with separate local regulators to launch an ambitious regional payments product roadmap can be a key challenge. Regulations and compliance processes can differ hugely from one jurisdiction to another, and that’s something we are very focused on which requires significant investment and time. We ultimately want to safeguard our reputation as a trusted and safe brand. Fortunately, Grab has been working closely with regulators and governments from day one and will continue to do what it takes to be a responsible partner in society.

Grab won Best Fraud Prevention solution Florin Award at the Global Payments Summit 2016, held in Singapore (12 – 13 October). You can meet the organizers at their upcoming event, European Payment Summit (EPS), 8- 9 March 2017 in Hague. EPS offers a unique 2-day program featuring key developments ‘for-by professionals’ in the payments/transaction space, combined with key sessions on international security & fraud.

Created in 2010, the Florin Awards aim at stimulating innovation in the transaction services industry by supporting innovative startups and assisting the promotion of their products and solutions.

About Wui Ngiap Foo

Wui Ngiap is the Head of User Trust at Grab. With diverse industry experience in the Risk and Trust domain, he was sold on the opportunity to build an end-to-end solution for Grab to minimize fraud risk inherent in the competitive ride-sharing environment. Since joining, Wui Ngiap has assembled a cross-functional team of data scientists, analysts, engineers, product managers and operations specialists focused on safeguarding the Grab user experience from any form of fraud, in the twin space of transport and payments.

Prior to Grab, Wui Ngiap worked at Google where he led a team in Trust and Safety, specializing in fighting fraud and abuse on Google's social offerings, ranging from Hangouts and YouTube, to its social networking site Google+.

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