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Vietnamese Grab users accuse ride-hailing app of forced use of e-wallet

A GrabBike driver picks up a ride-hailing traveler.
A GrabBike driver picks up a ride-hailing traveler.

Tran Anh, a Grab user based in Ho Chi Minh City, woke up on Monday to an empty balance of her GrabPay Credits account, a cashless payment option on her favorite ride-hailing app.

Many other users also took to social media to express their shock that the balance in their GrabPay Credits accounts too had ‘vaporized’ overnight.

What angers them even more is that they have no choice but to activate a new payment method to be able to continue using the money left in the ride-hailing app.

GrabPay is the in-app mobile wallet that is linked with users’ credit/debit card while GrabPay Credits is a top-up prepaid account for those who do not want to share their card information with the app.

Just like Anh, N.Thuy, a regular Grab traveler residing in Ho Chi Minh City’s Binh Thanh District, was stunned to see she could not pay for a recent ride with money from her GrabPay Credits account, which she had topped-up with nearly VND500,000 (US$21.5).

“I was in a rush at the time, so I did not try to find out the reason and opted to pay in cash,” Thuy told.

Thuy added that her husband faced the same problem, and the couple’s accounts were collectively worth nearly VDN1 million ($43) before they both “vanished without a trace.”

Thuy contacted Grab and got to know that the money was not lost but moved to the ride-hailing app’s new in-app e-wallet called GrabPay by Moca.

“The [Grab] staff told me the amount will be immediately available after my activation of GrabPay by Moca right in the Grab app,” she said.

But the response from the ride-hailing service did not erase Thuy’s displeasure as the female customer said she felt like she was forced to use the Moca mobile payment while she did not have a need to do so.

Thuy added that her colleagues were also subject to this change.

This screenshot from the Grab App urges users to activate GrabPay by Moca
This screenshot from the Grab App urges users to activate GrabPay by Moca

New e-wallet’s disadvantages

GrabPay by Moca is a cashless payment solution provided by Moca, a Vietnamese mobile payment provider established in 2013.

Anh confirmed  that she was prompted by the Grab app to activate her GrabPay by Moca account in lieu of the erstwhile GrabPay Credits.

“Any previous balance you had with Grab will be available after activation,” Anh said, citing a message from the app.

Anh said she had heard of the switch to Moca before, but did not expect that she would be forced to use the new cashless payment option.

“I still have money in my [GrabPay Credits] account, so basically, I have the right to use it up as that amount was added before Grab changes to the new payment method,” Anh told.

“Moreover, it is the choice of the customers whether to use GrabPay by Moca or not.”

The customer suggested that Grab should only force new customers or those who are about to top up new amount to their account to use Moca.

The irritation did not stop there as customer continued to be asked to link the new in-app payment method with their bank accounts upon their Moca activation, which make they feel risky in the context of several data breaches recently reported.

In addition, the mobile wallet only supports eight banks – BIDV, Vietcombank, Vietinbank, Sacombank, ACB, SCB, VPBank and Timo.

“Grab and Moca shall facilitate such linking by way of using ATM card details” and “customers cannot link VISA/ MasterCard/ Amex/ JCB debits cards, unless they are issued by Vietcombank,” the notification in the second step to activate GrabPay by Moca reads.

This is also the reason why L. Phuong, a Binh Thanh District, has hesitated to complete the activation and kept using cash in the meantime.

“Now that I am using a service of another big and prestigious bank which is still not on the list of banks that can be linked [with GrabPay by Moca], I do not know how to continue to activate,” L. Hoa, an officer worker in District 1, told Zing.

This screenshot from an introduction video by Grab shows the Vietnamese banks supported by GrabPay by Moca
This screenshot from an introduction video by Grab shows the Vietnamese banks supported by GrabPay by Moca

“Many customers who don’t own an ATM card from supported banks like me will have to go to the banks to open more ATM cards, won’t we?” Hoa questioned.

The answer to Hoa’s question turns to be a ‘yes’ as the app informed in a guide that it “highly recommends you to open one so that you can activate the GrabPay by Moca wallet, top up balance and start to unlock its interesting features.”

Reassurance

Grab first introduced the cashless payment method GrabPay by Moca earlier this month, asserting that the new feature will “bring customers swift, seamless and secure cashless payment experience” on its app.

Grab says that it will prioritize the linking of ATM cards and stops the top-up process through Internet Banking from October 10.

According to the ride-hailing app, the launch of GrabPay by Moca is being rolled out to all users and the process will complete by the end of this month.

However, unlike what it promised, hundreds of complaints and asks for help related to the new e-wallet’s troubles have been constantly posted to Grab’s official Facebook page.

It appears that Grab has yet to provide any further assistance to all these problems rather than the activation instruction and reassurance.

“In case customers do not use ATM card issued by banks in cooperation with Moca, at your request the current balance in your GrabPay Credits (if any) will be refunded or converted to promo codes with the same value,” Grab reassured on its website.