AirAsia taps Google Cloud to bolster its super-app

Malaysia’s AirAsia is setting up a cloud center of excellence with Google Cloud to advance its super-app platform in Southeast Asia.

The airline’s super-app, which was launched in 2020, competes with other super-apps in the region, such as Grab and Gojek. It provides services such as flight and hotel bookings, e-commerce, food and parcel delivery, ride-hailing and financial services, among others.

Through the cloud center of excellence, AirAsia hopes to speed-up product development for the super-app, which operates in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines, and train talent in areas such as site reliability engineering and machine learning operations.

As an extension of Google Cloud’s product development team, the center will drive the use of microservices, serverless and networking technologies to enhance AirAsia’s super-app so that it remains robust, reliable and lightweight as more features and services are added.

Staffed by technologists from both companies, the center and its data scientists will also tap Google Cloud’s analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities to glean real-time insights on the super-app’s 51 million active users, as well as emerging trends.

These include understanding the travel industry’s recovery trajectory and consumption patterns around food delivery, ride-hailing and more. The insights will enable the super-app to serve personalized recommendations to users on behalf of the small and medium-sized companies that offer services on the platform.

Finally, the center will develop software development kits that partners and external developers can use to build new features and services for the super-app, such as reusable software components for biometric identification, chatbots, e-wallets and online travel bookings.

Tony Fernandes, CEO of Capital A, formerly known as AirAsia Group, noted that the company is “now on the road to disrupting the digital platform arena in the same vein as we did airlines”.

“We may be late in the game, but with the super-app as the center of our ecosystem of e-commerce, logistics and fintech, we are determined to give all 700 million people in ASEAN inclusivity, accessibility and value,” he added .

Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud noted that super-apps helping small businesses thrive and stimulate, noting that 70% of new economic value generated in the next decade will be driven by digital platform business models, based on World Economic Forum estimates .

“AirAsia Super App is an inspiring example of a company that’s innovating using cloud-first technologies to better reach and serve their customers,” he said. “We’re proud to be working with Tony and his team to further develop talent and an open innovation ecosystem to meet diverse digital lifestyle needs across Southeast Asia.”

AirAsia is not the first super-app player to ink deeper partnerships with public cloud suppliers. In 2018, Grab announced a five-year agreement with Microsoft where it would use the Azure cloud platform to enhance its services. This includes the use of facial recognition to authenticate drivers and riders, and data analytics to detect fraud.

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