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As part of its continued commitment towards providing safer and more convenient access to transportation, Grab, formerly known as MyTeksi, is launching GrabChat, an instant messaging platform embedded within the app. Malaysia is pioneering the release and Grab is the first ride-hailing app in Southeast Asia to provide instant messaging.

“GrabChat makes it easier and quicker for passengers and drivers to commence their rides by allowing seamless communication between them without leaving the Grab app or incurring mobile charges. Our latest feature solves a commonly encountered gap where communication between drivers and passengers helps to commence a ride by locating one another or informing an estimated arrival time. We’re seeing an increase in passengers using Grab beyond one country and the availability of GrabChat will help drivers without international calling capability communicate with foreign mobile numbers,” said Jerald Singh, Head of Mobile Product.

Based on the beta testing (which is still on-going) that was conducted amongst select drivers and passengers in Malaysia and Singapore, GrabChat helped saved drivers 85,000 and passengers 45,000 SMSes respectively. In addition, drivers and passengers on GrabChat beta are seeing a significant reduction in ride cancellations by aiding the pickup process. With GrabChat, drivers can communicate their estimated arrival times without leaving the app screen, while passengers are able to receive more responsive feedback and share their exact locations.

GrabChat is designed with safety in mind for its drivers. In fact, Malaysian transport minister Datuk Sri Liow Tiong Lai pointed out usage of mobile phones while driving has been identified as the main cause of road accidents in the country [1].

Therefore, to enable safe communication between drivers and passengers, GrabChat comes complete with four commonly used templated messages for drivers and five for passengers. This provides a safer and more convenient way for both parties to communicate with just a touch of a button. According to the beta testing, two-thirds of messages from drivers relied solely on template responses to communicate with their passengers, with the top three messages being “I’m here”, “OK” and “I will arrive in 2 minutes”.

In addition, the Malaysian Tourism Board expects that by the end of this year, the country would have welcomed an estimated 30.5 million tourists to our shores [2]. Therefore, GrabChat can improve their travel experience by making it easier for tourists to communicate their pickup locations to drivers and likewise for drivers to contact them without incurring expensive international roaming charges.

“This new feature is the outcome of us listening and understanding the needs and wants of our customers. It is a simple, fast, convenient and most importantly a safer instant messaging platform to ease communications between passengers and drivers without the worry of communication breakdowns, international roaming call charges and being distracted while driving. Grab was birthed in Malaysia to address the need of providing safe transport option for all Malaysians while improving the welfare of our drivers, therefore we are proud to take the lead with the launch of GrabChat in the region,” said Jaygan Fu, Country Head of Grab Malaysia.

Fu also went on to add that Grab is already well on its way to develop additional features for GrabChat. “We already have plans to introduce new features and more hyperlocal functions to make it even easier for local passengers and regional travellers to communicate with local drivers,” explained Fu.

Grab will be further iterating and adding new features to GrabChat based on feedback and usage. GrabChat will also be expanding into other services such as GrabHitch for a more uniformed experience across the Grab app.

GrabChat which is currently applicable for GrabCar and GrabTaxi services will be made available in phases on Android and iOS devices in the coming weeks. To try GrabChat, please download the Grab app from the Google Playstore or App Store.