SINGAPORE, March 13 (Reuters) - Southeast Asia's Grab has formed a venture with Japanese credit card company Credit Saison Co Ltd to provide loans and lending services in the region, marking the ride-hailing firm's biggest expansion into financial services.
It will be part of newly launched Grab Financial, which offers services ranging from payments to rewards and loyalty services, the firms said in a statement on Tuesday.
The joint venture firm, Grab Financial Services Asia, plans to offer micro-financing products. It aims to leverage Grab's network of millions of consumers and small businesses as well as data on consumer behaviour, then marry it with Credit Saison's expertise in credit analysis and consumer lending.
"Grab Financial Services Asia is building a reliable alternative to traditional credit scoring methods that is customised for the unbanked majority of consumers and small businesses in Southeast Asia," said Jason Thompson, managing director of Grab Financial.
Grab, which started as a taxi-hailing app firm and competes with Uber, has been expanding into financial services over the last two years by acquiring companies and forming partnerships to spread usage of its mobile wallet.
The new venture will also look at offering credit scoring services to financial firms who can use the information to provide other services such as virtual credit cards.
Thompson declined to provide financial details of the venture with Credit Saison.
Grab operates in eight countries in Southeast Asia and its app has been downloaded on more than 86 million mobile devices. It offers ride-hailing, on-demand food and delivery services.
Grab also said it had partnered with Chubb Ltd to offer insurance coverage to Grab's 2.6 million drivers. (Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan and Anshuman Daga; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)