Wednesday, June 12

Indonesia’s Go-Jek starts trial launch in Singapore, challenges Grab

Indonesia’s Go-Jek plans to roll out a preliminary version of its ride-hailing app in Singapore on Nov 29, bringing fresh competition to the hometown of arch-rival Grab, according to people familiar with the plan.

Go-Jek’s beta app will be available to a limited number of consumers before expanding it to a wider population as testing progresses, said the people, who asked not to be named because the information is not public.

Many consumers and drivers have looked forward to Go-Jek’s entry after Grab cemented its grip on the city-state by agreeing in March to acquire the South-East Asian business of Uber Technologies Inc, eliminating its primary competition in the region.

Go-Jek chief executive officer Nadiem Makarim has said the company will enter the Singapore market with promotions, without disclosing specific timing.

Grab and Go-Jek are two of the most valuable startups in Southeast Asia. Grab is valued at $11 billion, according to the research firm CB Insights. Go-Jek was said to hit about $5 billion this year.

Some companies have been filling the void from Uber’s departure. ComfortDelGro Corp, Singapore’s largest taxi company, has benefited as consumers looking for another choice turned to its app. Its shares surged to as high as S$2.51 (RM7.64) on June 5, a 33% surge from its low point in 2017 as Grab and Uber competed for market share with discounts.

One ride-hailing startup called MVL Foundation Pte has signed up 23,000 drivers and 150,000 riders since launching its app called Tada in July. The service took off mainly through word of mouth.

“We listened to the feedback of drivers from the start and went for zero commission for drivers,” compared with the 20% commission charged by Grab, said Kay Woo, founder and CEO of MVL. “Our drivers became marketers for us.”

Go-Jek’s international expansion marks a major milestone for a company that started out by introducing a mobile app in 2015 to let people book cheap motorcycle taxis in traffic-snarled Jakarta. Since then, the company’s become a household name in its home country. Besides its ride-sharing service, Go-Jek is Indonesia’s largest food-delivery business and the leading digital-wallet provider.

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