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GrabTaxi, Uber’s SoftBank-Backed Rival In Southeast Asia, Tests Courier Service

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GrabTaxi, the Uber rival backed by SoftBank, is trialling a next-day delivery service as it experiments with logistics-related offerings beyond its core taxi-hailing business in Southeast Asia.

The ‘Parcel-Document’ service quietly went live in Bangkok, Thailand, this week in partnership with e-commerce company AlphaFAST. GrabTaxi customers can summon a courier inside the GrabTaxi application in the same way that they’d order a taxi (see below). The document will be delivered the next day if booked before 3pm. It is initially charged at a flat rate: paperwork and documents cost 35 THB (just over $1), while parcels are 35 THB to 70 THB based on size.

Photo 25-03-2015 18 19 07GrabTaxi works with regular taxis and limousine private hire cars for its GrabTaxi and GrabCar services, but the company is using AlphaFAST’s fleet of scooters for this pilot.

GrabTaxi actually has a motorbike taxi service in Vietnam — that’s another of its trials — so it seems conceivable that the two could be compatible in the future, should it choose to launch them in new cities.

GrabTaxi declined to comment on record about this experiment, but, since it is leaning on a partner for resources, this looks like a low risk way to gauge demand for delivery services.

CEO Anthony Tan told TechCrunch that the firm would experiment with new services in the wake of SoftBank’s $250 million investment in it last December, and this is one of the first ideas to be floated. Another is Uber-like cashless payments, which is set to be trialled in Singapore.

Uber has offered bicycle couriers in New York, but ‘UberRush’ is yet to expand into Southeast Asia, or indeed any countries outside of the U.S..

GrabTaxi isn’t the only SoftBank-backed taxi app firm to take a leaf from the Uber playbook of late. Ola launched a food delivery service in four cities in India last week.

Thanks @hipsteryogi