Ride-hailing firms draw up different roadmaps, Grab dominates

By Vien Thong   June 6, 2019 | 05:09 pm PT
Ride-hailing firms draw up different roadmaps, Grab dominates
Local ride-hailing firms are concentrating on niche areas to compete with Grab. Photo by Reuters/Edgar Su
Vietnam’s ride-hailing market has become more vibrant after Uber’s exit, with local firms taking on Grab with diverse strategies.

The market now is a battle between four major companies, dominated by Grab, with Go-Viet, FastGo and Be in pursuit, all offering many promotions while concentrating on niche areas to distinguish themselves from other competitors.

Since last June, Grab has been focusing on expanding its food service. Now in 15 cities and provinces, the company has reported its daily orders surged 250 times from last June to mid-May this year.

It has also attracted a large number of users. A survey by market research firm Kantar in April said that Grab was the most frequently-used food delivery app in Hanoi and HCMC with a response of 81 percent of users, a large improvement over 48 percent last October.

Food delivery is part of Grab’s strategy to become a "super app". Its partnership with payment firm Moca allows the app to change Vietnamese users' habit from cash to cashless, giving users the option to use Grab not just for transporting but also paying for goods.

Grab has recently partnered with Vincommerce, a unit of conglomerate Vingroup, to deliver products from VinMart+ convenience stores and VinMart supermarkets.

Amidst Grab’s expansion, the Vietnamese Be Group seeks a different strategy, as seen in its recently announced partnership with VPBank to establish a financial service.

On top of an e-wallet, beFinancial offers credit services to small and medium enterprises and to drivers to buy cars, something no ride-hailing service in Vietnam has done.

Its CEO Tran Thanh Hai said that Be aims to be an open ecosystem with priority given to partner with Vietnamese firms.

"We are not a super app which does everything. After partnering with local banks, we might want to work with other companies in the tourism and health sectors."

While Be focuses on the local market, FastGo, the first Vietnamese ride-hailing app, seeks to expand to foreign countries.

Almost a year after its launch, the company has introduced its services in Myanmar and Singapore, and has plans to reach out even further to the U.S. and Brazil this year.

"Our investors want the company to go global as soon as possible. Grab and Uber might have deep pockets, but FastGo wants to grab market share by offering better options to customers," its CEO Nguyen Huu Tuat said earlier.

FastGo does not collect commissions from drivers. Instead it charges them an amount of money if they earn a minimum amount per day. FastGo also claims to not increase fees during rush hour, but allows users to tip drivers.

It was the first company in Vietnam to launch a ride-hailing helicopter service last month, which allows users to take a Hanoi-Ha Long Bay tour from above.

Among the four major ride-hailing firms, Go-Viet, an affiliate of Indonesian Go-Jek, seems to be the slowest in expanding in Vietnam.

The company, having been in Vietnam since last August, is now only offering motorbike and delivery services, while car and online payment features, despite having been announced, have no specific launching dates.

The firm also had major changes in personnel, with its general director and deputy general director quitting in March. Former Facebook Vietnam country director took over as general manager in April.

Go-Viet is seeking to compete with GrabFood with promotions, offering discounts of up to 50-60 percent for short-distance trips.

Other ride-hailing apps such as Vato, Aber and Tada have also joined the market after Uber left, seeking a share in a crowded market that is forecast to reach $2 billion in 2025, according to a report released last year by Google and Singapore investment firm Temasek.

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