GrabTaxi Holdings Pte has got $250 million investment from SoftBank Corp., controlled by billionaire Masayoshi Son, as the taxi-booking service fends off competition from Uber Technologies Inc. in Southeast Asia.

SoftBank Internet and Media Inc., a unit of the Japanese company, will invest the money, making it the largest investor in GrabTaxi, Anthony Tan, who set up the mobile-phone application in 2012, said in an interview in Bangkok yesterday without providing stake details. GrabTaxi has raised about $340 million in the last 14 months, it said in a statement today.

The funding for GrabTaxi comes as Uber is said to be close to raising a round of financing that would give it a valuation of as much as $40 billion. Ride-hailing apps on smartphones are gaining popularity in cities across the world, providing transportation alternatives.

“We will do whatever it takes to ensure that we maintain our leadership in an ethical and moral way,” said Tan. “It’s a fight for marketshare. We’re many many times bigger than our closest competitors and we intend to grow that fast.”

GrabTaxi was founded by Tan, a Harvard Business School alumnus, and counts Singapore’s Temasek Holdings Pte and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. backer GGV Capital, among its investors.

The service, available in 17 cities in six Southeast Asian nations including Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. It has 60,000 taxi drivers on its network, up fourfold from a year earlier, according to the statement.

There are now 500,000 active users who use the app at least once a month, up sixfold from a year earlier, GrabTaxi said. It gets about three taxi bookings every second across the region, the company said.

SoftBank will support GrabTaxi’s expansion in the region, Nikesh Arora, vice chairman of SoftBank and chief executive officer of the unit, said in the press release.

In October, the unit of SoftBank said it would lead an investment of $210 million in ANI Technologies Pvt., which offers taxi booking service called Ola Cabs in India.

To contact the reporters on this story: David Ingles in Hong Kong at dingles@bloomberg.net; Siddharth Philip in Mumbai at sphilip3@bloomberg.net. To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chua Kong Ho at kchua6@bloomberg.net.

Photo Credit: GrabTaxi's app on iOS. Skift