SINGAPORE (Feb 4): Even as it guns for one of Singapore's two digital full bank licences, ride-hailing app Grab Holdings is taking another step towards becoming a financial player.

The group today reported that it will be entering the retail wealth management sector with the acquisition of Singapore-based robo-advisory start-up Bento Invest for an undisclosed sum. 

Bento’s proprietary digital wealth platform includes client onboarding, and portfolio construction and rebalancing supported by risk management capabilities.

Grab says that this move will allow it to offer retail wealth management solutions to users, drivers and merchants, via its app.

With this acquisition, Bento will be rebranded as GrabInvest with products launched on the Grab app in the first half of the year in Singapore. GrabInvest will be the fifth core business vertical under Grab’s financial services arm, Grab Financial Group, led by Chandrima Das, founder and CEO of Bento.

Other verticals under Grab Financial Group include payments (GrabPay), rewards (GrabRewards), lending (GrabFinance), and insurance (GrabInsure). 

GrabInvest aims to offer cash management and portfolio-based financial solutions to its users, drivers and merchants, as well as to make wealth management services accessible by adopting a low-cost model with transparency in the form of full disclosures on fees. 

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

Reuben Lai, senior managing director at Grab Financial Group notes that most people in Southeast Asia face a lack of access to affordable wealth management products and retirement planning solutions. 

“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,” says Lai. 

“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,” adds Lai.