Who’s driving GrabDefence’s fight against fraud?

Turning an idea into a business is not an easy endeavour. Hiring hundreds of the best IT engineers and data experts to develop the idea is another adventure altogether. But that’s exactly what GrabDefence did when it took a tech initiative intended to solve an internal problem and turned it into a business.

Meet Brian Kim

GrabDefence was an idea that took root in 2017 to solve an increase in fraud activity on Grab platforms.

Brian Kim joined GrabDefence in 2019 to turn the work of the Integrity Group into a business. He brings business acumen and a strategic approach to a talented technical team. Brian leads the business development side by helping the technical team translate their internal work into a full-fledged business model.

Like any other digital business, Grab also had to grapple with fraud risks as it grew. In response, they developed tools to manage future threats. They’re now in a position to help other businesses experiencing the same problems.

Before joining GrabDefence, Brian was a strategy consultant for McKenzie & Company where he focused on AI and machine learning consulting work in Seoul and Singapore.

Grab initially hired Brian as an AI strategist. But after two months on the job, he was asked by Wui Ngiap Foo, Head of Integrity, to turn an internal tech project into a business. The idea needed to be evaluated with a business lens, and Brian was perfect for the job.

The talent behind GrabDefence

Grab has invested significantly in its Integrity Group to protect its platforms and battle the evolving landscape of fraudulent acts. The 300-strong team of fraud techs spans Singapore, Malaysia, India and Seattle, and is dedicated to look after the trust, identity and safety of Grab’s platforms.

A dedicated team solely focused on GrabDefence is now in place to detect fraud and criminal activity, like identity theft, as it happens.

Brian understands every aspect of GrabDefence and is responsible for introducing the tools that protected Grab’s platform to businesses beyond Grab. Yet, he says it’s the tech team that creates the value.

“The data scientists build the value. I’m here to help them realise the great potential of their work.”

“We still have a small team compared to where we plan to be, but plans are in place for growth in the next year”. Brian says, “We’re looking to add more people to marketing, sales and engineering in 2022.”

The talent behind GrabDefence includes homegrown techs with a deep understanding of fraud issues. Together with internal employees, outside experts, and a diverse leadership team, the experience, backgrounds and knowledge are extensive.

Ready to help others battle fraud

While GrabDefence tools were originally designed to protect Grab platforms, they’re now being refined so that they can be shared with other organisations. As a team, they’re passionate about taking their depth of intelligence and becoming an overall solution provider supporting businesses across Southeast Asia and beyond.

“We want to be more than a software vendor. We want to partner with organisations to solve problems together.”

“GrabDefence has a vision to be the end-to-end risk solution for companies. Customers come to us asking for help to prevent false identity. But these are never isolated problems. We understand fraudsters and the various fraud Modus Operandis, and we want to help others in their efforts to battle fraud.”

All companies are subject to fraud. With the right partner and tools in place, businesses can reduce fraud losses, the amount of chargebacks and reduce leakage of marketing campaigns and promotions.

GrabDefence has the brainpower to detect fraud

GrabDefence was the result of an internal response to a growing concern in Southeast Asia. As an emerging economy, there has been an explosion of online consumers and apps on the market. Syndicates thrive in an emerging economy, which, in turn, has led to a significant increase in fraudulent activity.

“GrabDefence is the protection behind the entire Grab platform. We’re one of the biggest super apps in the region covering more than 10 different verticals, so we touch everyday life from transportation to food delivery and e-wallets.”

Given the access to vast amounts of data and operating experience throughout Southeast Asia, Brian and his team are confident that their solution can help companies that are looking to build their business in Southeast Asia and other developing countries.

“Detecting fraud is about detecting patterns and understanding where in the data you should look to prevent potential fraud. The data is brainpower and this is the core to detect fraud and take action.”

Grab processes a lot of data daily, 40 terabytes of data from Southeast Asia alone. AI and machine learning is only as good as the data it uses to train itself, which provides GrabDefence with a lot of great training and validation ground.

Grab also has the benefit of ground intelligence and experience around anti-fraud operations to help build sophisticated tools.

“To protect the Grab platform, we search and collect ground-level truth which provides us with in-depth intelligence that is not available just by looking into the data. This allows us to understand how fraudsters operate, how fraudsters profit from their activities and ultimately how to stop them.”

Brian’s vision for GrabDefence is to be the gateway to digital enterprises in Southeast Asia by giving them the tools to build a trustworthy platform that’s stable and safe – tools backed by technology and data that let them grow rapidly.

Managing fraud improves marketing ROI

Marketing plays an important role in user acquisition and retention, but inadvertently exposes the business to fraudsters.

“Many companies, especially those at the growth stage, rely on marketing promotion and rewards to scale. This is where fraudsters take advantage. Building a system that gives out rewards is prone to fraud.”

GrabDefence wants to eliminate the leakage and reduce fraud loss in Southeast Asia from the average of 10% down to just 0.5%. Companies will improve their marketing ROI by using the recovered 9.5% to acquire new customers rather than losing money to fraudsters. And that means companies can really accelerate growth while lowering customer acquisition costs.

The reality is, fraud will always be there. “To have zero fraud means to stop trying to acquire new customers and have zero transactions.” Businesses can’t get rid of it completely, but they can mitigate it.

A safer digital economy

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital adoption across the world, and in particular, SEA and other emerging markets. Southeast Asia is particularly vulnerable, because of low digital literacy rates. With millions of users going online for the first time, they may be unaware of the fraud threats that prevails.

Brain adds, “We believe that risk and security management providers like GrabDefence play an important role in building trust and providing a secure environment for users in order to unlock the full economic potential of the region.”

“There’s no point in building a safehouse in a neighbourhood with high crime rates – it’s much better if we make the whole neighbourhood safer.”

GrabDefence is working with businesses in Southeast Asia and around the world. If you’re interested in partnering with GrabDefence, please contact us

1 https://www.bain.com/insights/e-conomy-sea-2020/

Komsan Chiyadis

GrabFood delivery-partner, Thailand

Komsan Chiyadis

GrabFood delivery-partner, Thailand

COVID-19 has dealt an unprecedented blow to the tourism industry, affecting the livelihoods of millions of workers. One of them was Komsan, an assistant chef in a luxury hotel based in the Srinakarin area.

As the number of tourists at the hotel plunged, he decided to sign up as a GrabFood delivery-partner to earn an alternative income. Soon after, the hotel ceased operations.

Komsan has viewed this change through an optimistic lens, calling it the perfect opportunity for him to embark on a fresh journey after his previous job. Aside from GrabFood deliveries, he now also picks up GrabExpress jobs. It can get tiring, having to shuttle between different locations, but Komsan finds it exciting. And mostly, he’s glad to get his income back on track.