Google Cloud has signed a "strategic collaboration" with AirAsia in a bid to develop technology and services for the carrier's super app.
The five-year agreement is being positioned as a way for AirAsia to capitalize on the growth of its super app strategy - the mobile service that combines travel booking and management functionality with the ability to buy other consumer products, such as financial and health services, goods and educational tools.
Google Cloud's involvement will see it being used as a mechanism to nurture tech talent in Southeast Asia, push innovation in other tech companies and create a "Center Of Excellence" in the region.
On a practical level, Google Cloud technology will be deployed to ensure users can access services from the super app at any time and on any device, the pair say in a statement.
Perhaps most interestingly to external tech companies will be the ability to develop new tools and services that can be included on the AisAsia super app.
Such elements include biometric ID, chatbots, e-wallets and other travel-related booking services.
Announcing the launch of the partnership, Tony Fernandes, CEO of Capital A (the new name for the AirAsia holding company), admits that "we may be late in the game but with the suiper app as a 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 adds: "With Google's help, our ecosystem will not only be transactional, but be about building community, and enriching that community – not just the customers but partners like restaurants, airlines, hotels and drivers."
AirAsia has been steadily adding new services and tools to the super app over the last 12 months, including the addition of ride-hailing in August last year and biometric facial recognition for airline services a few months later.
Amanda Woo, CEO of AirAsia's super app, says: "It's crucial that we leverage Google's rich experience in building global platforms and ecosystems to equip and engage more talent, entrepreneurs and partners who can provide even more tailor-made solutions that fit users' lives.
"What we're announcing today is just the beginning, and we look forward to exploring further co-innovation initiatives with Google, whether in digital travel planning, self-driving cars, cloud gaming, startup investment, or supporting frontline workers through Google Workspace."