Facebook invests in Indonesia's Gojek in WhatsApp push

Facebook's backing is a boost for Gojek. PHOTOS: REUTERS, GOJEK

JAKARTA (BLOOMBERG) - Facebook Inc is investing in Gojek, Indonesia's ride-hailing and food delivery giant, as part of the social media company's effort to expand into emerging markets and find partners for its WhatsApp messaging service.

It's the second international investment Facebook has made in the past six weeks with a goal of getting more local businesses online. The company took about a 10 per cent stake in India's Reliance Jio for US$5.7 billion (S$7.96 billion) in April. Facebook has plans to build a commerce business around WhatsApp, and is creating a payments feature for the app. It already lets businesses use WhatsApp as a mobile website to interact with customers.

"We believe WhatsApp in particular can be instrumental in creating a more digital Indonesia by bringing more people into one of the fastest growing digital economies in the world," Facebook said in a blog post. The company didn't specify how much it is investing and a spokesperson declined to share details.

Facebook's backing is a boost for Indonesia's largest start-up, a ride-hailing giant that in recent years became a major provider of internet services from payments to meal delivery. Gojek, which is competing fiercely against Singapore's Grab across the region, last closed a US$1.2 billion funding round at the height of the coronavirus pandemic in March.

Gojek and Grab now aim to become South-east Asian consumers' default, all-purpose app, similar to Tencent's WeChat.

The Indonesian start-up, whose backers include Google, Tencent Holdings and Temasek Holdings, has said it will deploy fresh capital to keep expanding despite global economic turbulence. The company, which debuted an app for hailing motorbike taxis in Jakarta in 2015, now also offers a score of other on-demand services such as house cleaning and medicine delivery, and was last valued at US$10 billion according to CB Insights.

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