Southeast Asian ride-hailing app Grab expands into lending

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Southeast Asian ride hailing app Grab is expanding into financial services in partnership with a Japanese credit card company, hoping to offer credit to millions of people without bank accounts.

Grab, founded by Malaysian businessman Anthony Tan, said Tuesday it will use its "huge cache" of customer data from the app to provide ways to measure creditworthiness of people outside the formal banking system.

The ride-hailing app has over a billion transactions a year including food deliveries and other services.

It said the joint venture with Japan's Credit Saison will initially focus on providing loans to Grab drivers and merchants for purchasing smartphones or working capital.

The World Bank estimates that more than 260 million people in Southeast Asia lack bank accounts, which restricts their access to credit.