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Go-Jek: The latest to enter Singapore’s ride-hailing war?

SINGAPORE — While all eyes are on the uncertain merger between ride-hailing giants Grab and Uber – with the competition commission scrutinising the deal – there are signs that a smaller rival from Indonesia may be preparing to wade into Singapore’s crowded transportation sector.

Reuters file photo

Reuters file photo

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SINGAPORE — While all eyes are on the uncertain merger between ride-hailing giants Grab and Uber – with the competition commission scrutinising the deal – there are signs that a smaller rival from Indonesia may be preparing to wade into Singapore’s crowded transportation sector.

Recent reports have indicated that Indonesia’s Go-Jek, a play on the local word for motorbike taxis, has cast its eyes on the Republic as it seeks to expand beyond its home base. If this materialises, Go-Jek may cause another wave of disruption to the market.

Go-Jek’s presence, together with homegrown carpooling app Ryde Technologies will ensure the industry is not dominated by a single player. Ryde said it would be launching its RydeX service – which could feature scheduled services allowing users to book rides in advance – in the coming weeks.

On Friday (March 30), the Competition Commission of Singapore issued a proposed Interim Measures Directions to ride-hailing firms Grab and Uber on their merger to “preserve and/or restore competition and market conditions”, effectively putting a freeze on the deal in Singapore till the watchdog has completed its investigations.

When contacted by TODAY on whether Go-Jek plans to enter the Singapore market, the company said on Monday (April 2) that it is “unable to comment on speculation”.

In the meantime, here’s what you need to know about the Indonesian ride-hailing giant.

RAPID EXPANSION

Launched eight years ago, Go-Jek was set up by Harvard School of Business graduate Nadiem Makarim – who was also a former associate with consulting firm McKinsey – as a ride-hailing app for motorcycle taxis in Jakarta.

The popularity of the app, which helped many locals in Jakarta overcome the capital’s notorious gridlocks, allowed it to expand rapidly outside of the city and widen its breadth of operations to include a cashless payment app and even lifestyle services.

These services go beyond the usual food delivery options to include groceries, medicine and even the transportation of professional stylists and masseuses to the customer’s location.

BEYOND INDONESIA

Reuters reported on Tuesday (March 27) that it had seen an internal company email from Mr Makarim on how the firm is set to announce its first overseas expansion to another country in South-east Asia in the “next few weeks”.

The report added that Go-Jek plans to expand to three other South-east Asian countries by the middle of this year.

Markets under consideration reportedly include Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Go-Jek has an office located in the Republic’s Central Business District that is currently focused on data science. A week-old post on Go-Jek’s LinkedIn page said that it was growing its “international footprint” and was looking to hire for roles across Engineering, Data Science, Analytics, Fraud, FinTech, Payments, and Operations roles.

GO-JEK’S BACKERS

In February, it was reported that Temasek Holdings invested about S$131 million in a Go-Jek fundraising effort. A Temasek spokesperson confirmed to Reuters its participation in the exercise, but declined to reveal the actual amount invested.

According to the report, Temasek would join a list of dozens of investors that are keen to lend their financial support to the Indonesian company, which is said to be valued at around S$5.2 billion – compared to Grab’s S$7.9 billion.

Some of Go-Jek’s other well-known backers include Google and China’s technology giants Tencent Holdings and Meituan-Dianping. Reuters said that Google invested about S$131 million into Go-Jek.

If Go-Jek chooses to foray into Singapore, it is unlikely that it will be offering its services on two-wheels. TODAY understands that motorcycles are not allowed to be used for point-to-point transport services, unlike taxis and private hire cars. TODAY has reached out to the Land Transport Authority for comments.

 

 

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