Grab buys Singapore robo-advisory start-up Bento
Grab, the Singapore-based ridesharing app turned tech giant, has bought Bento Invest, a robo-advisor and wealthtech start-up, in a bid to offer its own retail wealth solutions to millions across Southeast Asia. The sum of the deal is undisclosed.
Bento will be rebranded as GrabInvest, adding retail wealth management to the bigtech’s armory of financial services which already includes insurance, lending, and a digital wallet called GrabPay. The app also offers retail customers ride-sharing, food delivery, door-to-door delivery, film and hotel booking services.
The acquisition will see Grab roll out its first retail wealthtech offering in Singapore in the first half of this year, before expanding to wider Southeast Asia. The Big Tech firm says its motive for expanding into this product area is to enable the “underserved in [the region to] […] save and invest in financial products traditionally limited to affluent individuals and institutional investors”.
GrabInvest will be a “new core business vertical” which sits under Grab Financial Group. The new business will be led by Bento’s founder and CEO Chandrima Das, who was formerly MD at the Bank of Singapore and prior to that, ING’s investment management CEO.
The new entity says it will adopt “a low-cost model”, and display “full disclosures on fees with zero hidden elements”. Bento’s risk management platform will give Grab access to client onboarding, portfolio construction and rebalancing technology. The small team of asset managers and bankers which drive the platform will join GrabInvest.
“As we face an increasingly volatile and uncertain economic environment, it is imperative for Southeast Asians to acquire the tools and knowledge to protect their future by sustainably building wealth for themselves and their families,” says Grab Financial Group’s senior MD Reuben Lai.
He adds: “The launch of GrabInvest brings us a step closer to democratising access to affordable financial solutions that will help them achieve the financial stability they need well into their retirement years.”
GrabInvest will operate under the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s retail fund management license. The bigtech is also bidding for one of Singapore’s much sought after digital bank licences with one of the country’s major telecommunication service providers, Singtel.
If the rideshare app gets a digital banking licence, it will create of a financial subsidiary with Singtel targeting digital-first customers and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) struggling with access to credit.