Seeking to increase competition, Uber signed its first payment agreement in Southeast Asia after announcing a partnership with Momo, a mobile wallet service based in Vietnam.
Momo, which raised $ 28 million led by Standard Chartered last year. It will become a payment option within the Uber application in Vietnam, along with cash and credit cards. The application is the main mobile payment service in the country. It is used by five million people to pay bills, transportation tickets and more, so it makes sense to align it with Uber.
The deployment will be gradual: an initial 30% of users of the Android Uber application will have the option to pay through Momo as of today. That will be extended to all Android users during the next month, and iOS, which follows Android significantly in market share in Vietnam, will come later.
Uber said that Vietnam is one of the "fastest growing Asian markets" but did not provide the user with figures. The agreement is the first of its kind for Uber in Southeast Asia, a region where it has a difficult challenge to fight Grab, based in Singapore, in seven markets and local unicorn Go-Jek in Indonesia.
Uber has a mobile wallet agreement with Paytm in India, but that was delayed in 2014 due to regulatory requirements.
"We are always looking for ways to make taking an Uber more fluid, but there is nothing to announce today," Uber said when asked if he plans to seek other partnerships throughout Southeast Asia.
Both Grab, which recently raised $ 2 billion from SoftBank like China's Didi, and Go-Jek have focused heavily on mobile payments, each building a mobile wallet service that will eventually go beyond paying for the trip shared to pay for other goods.
Go-Jek, which has the backing of Chinese Internet giant Tencent, plans to extend its Go-Pay service in an independent application next year. Go-Pay can now be used for a range of services that goes beyond motorcycles and taxis on demand. Go-Jek, valued at $ 3 billion, has said he can expand his reach outside of Indonesia by using Go-Pay, instead of sharing the trip, as his initial launch service.
Meanwhile, Grab started working on his GrabPay platform last year. Earlier this month, it launched support for third-party merchants in Singapore that allows its application to be used to pay at food vendors stalls. It plans to scale up to 1,000 merchants by the end of this year and expand the initiative to other parts of the region by 2018.
The tie with Momo does not make Uber reach the height that its rivals have, but represents a new focus in the search for agreements and badociations that Uber would not have considered previously.
In an interview earlier this month, Uber Asia director Brooks Entwistle told TechCrunch that the firm is willing to work with governments and even taxi drivers to develop their business in Southeast Asia. Entwistle also hinted at partnerships with paid companies, and said Uber is looking for options within the bicycle rental space on demand.
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