Customers across South-East Asia will be able to apply for the card through the Grab app, and receive either a virtual card in their GrabPay e-wallet or a physical prepaid card.
The card has both NFC (near-field communication) and EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) chip technology, which means it can be used to pay at point-of-service terminals or via contactless payment.
Grab says users do not need to have a bank account, as top ups can be made at any of Grab’s 8 million micro-entrepreneurs: from drivers, to agents and merchants on the GrabPay platform.
It adds that by offering prepaid cards, it makes the e-wallet one of the first to be usable worldwide with any merchant, online or offline, that accepts Mastercard.
The Grab prepaid card is expected to be rolled out by the first half of 2019, starting in Singapore and the Philippines.
Grab Financial senior managing director Reuben Lai says the partnership will enable South-East Asia’s 400 million unbanked consumers to buy goods and services online, something previously limited to the 10% with a credit card.
Mastercard Digital & Emerging Partnerships and New Payment Flows executive vice president Rama Sridhar adds that the partnership would also allow merchants to tap into Grab’s user base of emerging middle class consumers without changing infrastructure.
Grab claims that compared to cash, the card is more convenience and safe, while the virtual card is suited to e-commerce purchases through merchants in Mastercard’s global network.
It adds that the virtual card is also ideally suited as a prepaid travel card, and reportedly benefits users by allowing for top ups in different currencies while saving customers from exorbitant transaction and currency exchange fees.