‘Numerous complaints’ led to Grab’s RM87m fine, competition commission CEO says

In response to the proposed fine, Grab cited the “common practice” of companies tailoring third-party advertisements on their platforms.
The Straits Times
  • On Thursday (Oct 3), ride-hailing app Grab was slapped with a proposed fine of RM87 million for banning drivers from running rivals’ ads.

  • Malaysia’s Competition Commission said the firm abused its dominant position and made it hard for rivals to thrive.

  • Grab is allowed to defend its case before the commission makes a final decision.

  • It maintains that tailoring third-party advertisements is a common businesses practice.

After being hit with news of a proposed RM86.7 million (US$20 million) fine for breaching the Competition Act, Malaysia’s only major ride-hailing app, Grab, is denying it did anything illegal.

The proposed fine comes months before regional competitor Go-Jek is expected to begin operations in Malaysia.

Malaysia’s Competition Commission (MyCC) on Thursday (Oct 3) accused the decacorn of abusing its dominant market position by banning drivers from promoting and advertising rival companies in ride-hailing and transit media advertising.

Lawyers for the decacorn are currently studying the fine, Bernama reported Grab as saying.

The tech firm plans to defend its case by the end of November, after which MyCC will make a final decision.

Nevertheless, Grab must pay an additional RM15,000 fine for each day after Oct 3 that it “fails to take remedial action”, the commission said.

In a statement, the startup said it had “complied fully” with the Competition Act, and cited a “common practice” of companies tailoring third-party advertisements on their platforms.

MyCC said Grab’s behaviour created significant barriers to entry and expansion for rivals, and affected drivers and consumers in the long run.

“It is important that barriers to entry for new players remain low, and for existing players to compete on merit,” said MyCC CEO Iskandar Ismail.

He added that the commission – which has been monitoring the firm for anti-competitive behaviour since the Uber acquisition– received “numerous complaints” about its tactics.

The commission’s website includes a link where both members of public and organisations can submit complaints against cartels or abusive dominant players.

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