Grab acquires retail wealth tech start-up Bento

(Image: Grab)

Grab acquires wealth tech start-up Bento to bring retail wealth solutions to millions across Southeast Asia

By: Phoenix Lee/

Grab acquires Bento to bring retail wealth management and investment solutions to its ecosystem of users, driver-partners and merchant-partners. Bento will be rebranded as GrabInvest; products to be rolled out in South-East Asia, with Singapore as the first market.

  • Grab acquires Bento to bring retail wealth management and investment solutions to its ecosystem of users, driver-partners and merchant-partners
  • As Grab acquires Bento it will be rebranded as GrabInvest; products to be rolled out in South-East Asia, with Singapore as the first market
  • As Grab acquires Bento, it signals the start of journey where the underserved in SEA can save and invest in financial products traditionally limited to affluent individuals and institutional investors

Grab Holdings Inc. (“Grab”), Southeast Asia’s leading super app, on Feb 4 announced the acquisition of Bento Invest Pte Ltd (“Bento”), a Singapore-based robo-advisory start-up for an undisclosed sum, that will allow Grab to offer retail wealth management solutions to users, driver-partners and merchant-partners, via the Grab app.

As Grab acquires Bento, it will be rebranded as GrabInvest with products launched on the Grab app in the first half of the year in Singapore.

GrabInvest will be a new core business vertical under Grab’s financial services arm, Grab Financial Group, led by Chandrima Das, founder and CEO of Bento. Grab Financial Group currently offers financial services across Southeast Asia in payments (GrabPay), rewards (GrabRewards), lending (GrabFinance), and insurance (GrabInsure) to micro-entrepreneurs, small business owners, driver-partners and users across Southeast Asia.

GrabInvest aims to democratise access to retail wealth management products, in order to provide millions across Southeast Asia with the opportunity to save and invest in financial products traditionally limited to affluent individuals and institutional investors.

Grab acquires Bento
(Image: Grab)

GrabInvest aims to make wealth management services accessible by adopting a low-cost model, easy to understand by allowing users to transact on a platform they are familiar with, transparent by having full disclosures on fees with zero hidden elements, and trusted by adhering to consumer protection standards outlined by our Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) Capital Markets Services  (CMS) license.

Reuben Lai, Senior Managing Director of Grab Financial Group, said: “In Southeast Asia, there is a lack of access to affordable wealth management products and retirement planning solutions for most people. As we face an increasingly volatile and uncertain economic environment, it is imperative for Southeast Asians to acquire the tools and knowledge to protect their future by sustainably building wealth for themselves and their families. The launch of GrabInvest brings us a step closer to democratising access to affordable financial solutions that will help them achieve the financial stability they need well into their retirement years.”

Philip Chew, Head of Investments and New Businesses, Grab Financial Group, said: “We are excited to welcome Chandrima and her team to the Grab family. Bento has been recognised as a leading wealth-tech platform and proven to be an industry leader in democratising retail wealth solutions in the region. Now, from within Grab’s everyday app, we will build on our fintech capabilities to transform what is currently an underserved retail wealth sector in Southeast Asia to one that is powered by a 24/7 user engagement platform and best-in-class financial models, portfolio management and risk management technologies. All of this, while remaining affordable, accessible and trusted by our partners and users.”

Chandrima Das, Founder and CEO, Bento, and Grab Financial Group’s new Head of Wealth Management also spoke to the acquisition: “The Bento and Grab Financial teams share a common vision to democratise investments for our customers irrespective of their wallet size. I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Grab ecosystem as we work together to make wealth management solutions serve the financial needs of millions of Southeast Asians.”

Bento’s proprietary digital wealth platform includes client onboarding, and portfolio construction and rebalancing supported by robust risk management capabilities. The platform is built and backed by a team of seasoned asset management and banking professionals who will join the GrabInvest team. Bento’s founder, Chandrima Das, has over two decades of leadership experience in banks and asset managers across Asia and the UK. Chandrima was formerly Managing Director at Bank of Singapore and prior to that, CEO of ING Investment Management.

GrabInvest will operate under a retail wealth management capital markets services license in Singapore, namely the MAS Retail Licensed Fund Management Company (LFMC) license.

GrabInvest aims to offer cash management and portfolio-based financial solutions to its users, driver-partners and merchant-partners, with Singapore as the first market to roll-out.

In December 2019, Grab announced that it was partnering Singtel for Singapore digital banking licence. The consortium will apply for a digital full bank licence in Singapore. Grab will have a 60 percent stake in the consortium entity while Singtel will hold a 40 percent stake.

Grab and Singtel said that they are committed to contributing to the financial services sector with a differentiated offering that addresses the unmet and underserved needs of consumer and enterprise segments in Singapore. The digital bank will aim to cater to the needs of digital-first consumers, who have come to expect greater convenience and personalisation, and SMEs which cite lack of access to credit as a key pain point.

The consortium will be well-positioned to offer relevant products and services and become a trusted partner for consumers and enterprises; embedding banking and financial services seamlessly into the everyday lives of Grab and Singtel’s large, highly-engaged base of customers.

Written by Ravi Chandran

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