Clash of the unicorns

The surge in value of South-east Asia's ride-hailing and delivery giant Grab and its imminent listing in the United States have led to keen interest in the region's unicorns - start-ups valued at least US$1 billion. The Straits Times explores the stiff competition in the region's biggest market Indonesia and looks at the country's six unicorns including its newest, J&T Express.

Grab has gone beyond food delivery in Indonesia. In February, it offered drive-through Covid-19 vaccination services to help inoculate more than 180 million people. Last December, it opened a tech centre in Jakarta with the aim of helping local small
Grab has gone beyond food delivery in Indonesia. In February, it offered drive-through Covid-19 vaccination services to help inoculate more than 180 million people. Last December, it opened a tech centre in Jakarta with the aim of helping local small businesses go digital. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG
Gojek has transformed itself from a ride-hailing company to a "super app" that offers not only payment solutions but also food deliveries, gaming and other services.
Gojek has transformed itself from a ride-hailing company to a "super app" that offers not only payment solutions but also food deliveries, gaming and other services.PHOTO: REUTERS

Cut-throat competition in the digital business in Indonesia has intensified in the areas of food delivery, e-commerce and payment services, which are dominated by three players - two based in Singapore and one in Jakarta.

Intense government lobbying and snatching of strategic partners have been among their noticeable features.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2021, with the headline 'Clash of the unicorns'. Subscribe