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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

House passes $768 billion defense spending bill

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The House approved a $768 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 2022 fiscal year in a bipartisan 316-113 vote on Thursday.

Why it matters: The annual bill, which authorizes Pentagon spending levels and guides policy for the department, would require women to register for the military draft, among other provisions.

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Republicans’ secret lobbying

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The five Senate Republicans who helped negotiate and draft the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill have been privately courting their Republican colleagues to pass the measure in the House.

Why it matters: House GOP leaders are actively urging their members to oppose the bill. The senators are working to undercut that effort as Monday shapes up as a do-or-die moment for the bipartisan bill.

CBC members nix border visit

A Haitian migrant carries a toddler on his shoulders today as he crosses the Rio Grande River. Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP via Getty Images

Several members of the Congressional Black Caucus weighed visiting the U.S.-Mexico border this week to investigate the conditions faced by Haitian migrants and protest allegations of inhumane treatment by U.S. agents.

Why it matters: It's a thorny proposition both in terms of timing and messaging. Going assures a new wave of negative headlines for President Biden amid sinking popularity. And with congressional deadlines in the coming days over infrastructure, a possible government shutdown and debt-limit crisis, Democrats can't afford to lose any votes in the House.