Japan's SoftBank
Japan's SoftBank plans to invest $10bn in the Indian e-commerce sector Reuters

Japanese telecommunications major Softbank has invested several millions of dollars in GrabTaxi, considered a rival to Uber in Southeast Asia.

Softbank's internet and media arm has invested $250m (£159.2m, €202m) in the fast-growing taxi hailing service, making it the largest investor in the mobile app.

Following the investment, GrabTaxi is expected to have a valuation of more than $1bn.

Founded in Malaysia in 2012, GrabTaxi has recently moved its headquarters to Singapore. It operates in 17 cities across six Southeast Asian countries – Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia.

It claims to have the largest network in Southeast Asia and more than 500,000 active users and 2.5 million mobile app downloads till date.

Including Softbank's investment, GrabTaxi has raised $340m over the last year. Other investors in the firm include Vertex Venture Holdings, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Temasek, the Singapore government's investment arm, and US investor Tiger Global Management.

The investment would allow GrabTaxi to effectively compete with other taxi apps, including Uber, which is rapidly expanding its services in Asia.

GrabTaxi CEO and co-founder Anthony Tan told TechCrunch in an interview that the company will go towards fortifying its efforts in existing markets and continuing its expansion across Southeast Asia.

"We're going to be staying regional. [We want to] grow very fast and focus on expanding in this region, whilst staying very very focused," Tan said.

For Softbank, it is another strategic investment in fast-growing start-ups. Earlier, the company invested $627m in Indian online shopping portal Snapdeal and $210m in taxi app Ola, owned by ANI Technologies. The company is looking to invest $10bn in Indian start-ups.