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AirAsia taps Google Cloud to bolster its super-app

AirAsia is setting up a cloud centre of excellence with Google Cloud to shore up its super-app and build capabilities in site reliability engineering and machine learning operations

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

The Airasia 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 centre 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 centre will drive the use of microservices, serverless and networking technologies to enhance the Airasia Super App so that it remains robust, reliable and lightweight as more features and services are added.

Staffed by technologists from both companies, the centre 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 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 personalised recommendations to users on behalf of the small and medium-sized companies that offer services on the platform.

Finally, the centre 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.

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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 centre 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 are helping small businesses thrive and stimulate economies, adding 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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