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Grab takes on UOB group head in latest raid on Singapore banking sector

John David Yap, UOB’s group head of business banking analytics, has become the latest banking professional to be poached by Grab. Yap is now MSME (micro, small and medium enterprises) lead for lending at Grab Financial, the Singapore tech unicorn’s expanding financial services arm.

Singapore-based Yap joined UOB in 2015 and was responsible for driving the use of analytics in business banking across Asia, according to his online profile. His job scope covered marketing, credit risk, predictive models and risk capital optimisation.

Yap has a lot on his plate as he helps lead Grab Financial’s continued expansion in Singapore and Southeast Asia. In March, the unit announced plans to launch a suite of new products to deliver a “full-scale push into lending and insurance”, aimed at the small entrepreneurs that Yap is now focusing on. Grab is trying to grow beyond its ride-hailing roots and establish itself as a so-called ‘super app’ in the face of competition from rival Go Jek.

Grab Financial’s growth means it is increasingly turning to the banking sector to find talent. For example, its payments app, GrabPay, is headed up by Gary Wong, who joined in 2018 from OCBC. Yap is not the only former UOB banker who’s now a ‘Grabber’. As we reported in March, Chun Han Quah joined GrabPay from UOB as head of regional schemes and financial institution partnerships.

Wong told us last year that his team is hiring people from a range of employers, including banks, regulators, credit card firms, and tech competitors. “I’ve actually rejected candidates who were very good technically, but weren’t collaborative enough in their outlook to be successful here,” Wong said.

If you’re thinking of leaving banking for Grab, there should be plenty of opportunities at the firm in the near future for both technology and front-office staff. Grab is among the companies considering the feasibility of applying for one of the Singapore Monetary Authority’s new digital banking licences. Successful applicants will “inevitably” need to poach staff from traditional banks, Adam Davies, lead IT recruiter at iKas International in Singapore, told us earlier this month.

New Grab recruit Yap has a background in both finance and tech. He worked for about four years as a programmer at the start of his career and then moved into an analytics role at Standard Chartered in 2005 after completing an MBA at NTU. Yap worked for Fullerton Financial Holdings between 2010 and 2015 as a vice president in SME and commercial banking.

Image credit: zorazhuang, Getty

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AUTHORSimon Mortlock Content Manager

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