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Grab launches in-app instant messaging service GrabChat for ride-hailing across Southeast Asia

MANILA — Grab has launched GrabChat, an instant messaging platform built within the app, across all its locations in Southeast Asia to provide a more seamless and speedier pickup to drivers and passengers. In its extensive beta testing involving more than 50,000 users across the region, GrabChat has contributed to an overall better ride experience by helping drivers more quickly locate our passengers and commence rides. Grab is the first ride-hailing app in Southeast Asia to provide instant messaging.

“GrabChat is a simple, yet powerful, feature upgrade. It 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. Many drivers rely on calls and text messages before pickups to help locate passengers, share an estimated arrival time and inform them that they have arrived. Furthermore, we’re seeing a steady increase in passengers using Grab beyond their home country and the availability of GrabChat will help drivers without international calling capability communicate with foreign mobile numbers,” said Tan Hooi Ling, Grab Co-Founder.

In the Philippines, Grab’s Country Head Brian Cu cited the benefit of the latest innovation to Filipinos, who still largely use basic phone features such as call and text in their communication. “Many Filipino drivers and riders still rely on calls and text messages before a ride commences, either to help drivers locate passengers or inform drivers of a rider’s specific whereabouts. GrabChat is part of making transport freedom a reality among Filipinos, as it provides an in-app communications solution to drivers and passengers, minimizing call and SMS charges,” Cu said.


During the beta testing conducted amongst select drivers and passengers in Malaysia and Singapore, using GrabChat saved drivers 85,000 and passengers 45,000 SMSes respectively in just one week.

In addition, drivers and passengers on GrabChat beta are seeing a significant reduction in ride cancellations, compared to users who are not yet on GrabChat, by enabling a more seamless 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 communicate their whereabouts.

GrabChat is designed with safety in mind for its drivers. To enable safe communication between drivers and passengers, GrabChat comes complete with commonly used template messages for drivers and passengers. This provides a safer and more convenient way for both parties to send a message with just a touch of a button. During GrabChat’s beta testing, the vast majority of sent messages from drivers were template responses to communicate with their passengers, with the top three messages being “I’m here”, “OK” and “I will arrive in 2 minutes”.

More passengers are starting to use the Grab app for rides during their travel around the region. GrabChat makes it easier for drivers and passengers to communicate without incurring expensive international call charges. With different languages spoken in every Southeast Asian country, GrabChat will also be enhanced with auto translation of messages by the end of the year allowing regional travelers to communicate even more easily with local drivers.

Grab will introduce more useful features on GrabChat beyond the auto translation service. “We have a well-developed product roadmap to launch new features and more hyperlocal functions to ease communications for local passengers and regional travelers with our driver-partners. Grab wants to be your ride of choice across Southeast Asia,” added Tan.

Upcoming features for GrabChat include:

  • Auto translation of messages to enable seamless communication between drivers and regional travellers with language support for English, Bahasa Malaysia, Bahasa Indonesia, simplified Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese.

  • Ongoing localizing of template messages for every country based on the analysis of commonly typed messages to improve template messages, ensuring the options provided remain relevant and useful.

  • Enable location & multimedia messages based on assessing customers’ comfort to share or send pictures of their locations to provide a speedier pickup by drivers.

  • Expanding GrabChat to more services such as GrabHitch, GrabExpress and GrabFood for a more uniform experience across the Grab app.  

GrabChat is currently applicable for GrabCar and GrabTaxi services and will gradually be enabled this week for all Android and iOS users. To experience GrabChat, please download the Grab app from the Google Playstore or App Store.

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