Microsoft invests in Southeast Asian ride-hailing firm Grab

Ming Maa, president of Grab, Peggy Johnson, Executive Vice President of Business Development, Microsoft

Microsoft is investing in south Asian ride-hailing company Grab as a part of a strategic partnership between the two. Grab, an on-demand transportation, mobile payments and online-to-offline services platform, will leverage Microsoft’s expertise in machine learning and other artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities.

As a first step in the broad collaboration between the two companies, Grab will adopt Microsoft Azure as its preferred cloud platform and Microsoft will make a strategic investment in Grab.

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The companies did not disclose the deal value.

Grab had earlier said it planned to raise roughly $3 billion by year-end, of which it has already raised $2 billion in 2018, led by Toyota Motor Corp and financial firms, including Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital.

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Grab will work with Microsoft to explore mobile facial recognition, image recognition and computer vision technologies to improve the pick-up experience, the companies said in a statement on Tuesday.

For example, passengers will be able to take a photo of their current location and have it translated into an actual address for the driver.

Other areas of the five year-agreement include Grab adopting Microsoft’s Azure as its preferred cloud platform and using it for data analytics and fraud detection services.

Competition for Grab is heating up with Indonesian rival Go-Jek also expanding in the region.

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