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A Grab 'Ojek' motorcycle taxi driver waits beside a street in Jakarta. Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images.

This morning, Grab announced a $200 million strategic investment from Booking Holdings, which most people still know as Priceline.

Why it matters: Grab began life as a ride-hail company, but it's also becoming one of Southeast Asia's largest non-bank financial firms.

Last week I interviewed Grab Financial execs Reuben Lai and Jason Thompson, as part of the Money 20/20 conference in Last Vegas. Some notes:

Several years ago Grab launched its own payments platform, which works with thousands of third-party merchants (and now even more, based on a partnership it just announced with Mastercard). It also has gotten into the small-business loan business.

Lai argues that finance is a bigger potential market for Grab than is ride-hail, given the large number of unbanked and underbanked people in Southeast Asia. But there are not currently any plans to spin off the unit. There are also no plans to expand into other geographic markets, such as China.

  • He also said that Alibaba never invested in Grab, contrary to many media reports from earlier this year.

Thompson was poached in late 2016 from Euronet to lead GrabPay, but now he is officially CEO of an Indonesia-based digital wallet company called OVO. There is a strategic relationship between Grab and OVO, but both Lai and Thompson got a bit cagey when pressed for specifics.

  • Speaking of Indonesia: Grab rival Go-Jek has secured around $1.2 billion at a valuation north of $9 billion, from existing backers like Google, Tencent and JD.com, per The Information. The round is not yet closed.

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”