Gojek in talks with Philippines, expects to be in market soon

Gojek is now nursing ambitions for a larger share of the South-east Asian market.
Gojek is now nursing ambitions for a larger share of the South-east Asian market.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

JAKARTA (REUTERS)- Indonesia's Gojek is in talks with Philippine authorities to get its ride-hailing service application reconsidered, after it was rejected this month by regulators, and hopes to be in the market soon, co-founder Kevin Aluwi said on Thursday (Jan 24).

The start-up, whose backers include Alphabet Inc's Google, suffered a setback to its regional expansion plans when its application to start ride-hailing services was rejected by Philippine authorities on the grounds that its domestic unit did not meet local ownership criteria.

"We are in conversation with all government agencies and are optimistic we will be in the market soon," said Aluwi, who also serves as Gojek chief information officer.

Having evolved from a ride-hailing service founded in 2011 to providing a one-stop app through which users can make online payments and order food and services such as massages, Gojek is now nursing ambitions for a larger share of the South-east Asian market, currently dominated by Singapore-based Grab.

Aluwi said Gojek had seen transactions worth US$12.5 billion "over its whole platform" in 2018, with "consistent and explosive growth".

The start-up announced last week that it had acquired a majority stake in Philippine fintech company Coins.ph, which operates a mobile wallet with five million users.

News website Techcrunch cited two unnamed sources as saying the investment was worth US$72 million.


Aluwi, who was speaking at the DealStreetAsia 2019 PE-VC Summit, declined to confirm the size of the investment, but said the firm saw "payments as a key part of the platform evolving".

Gojek has raised billions of dollars from investors such as Tencent Holdings, JD.com and Temasek Holdings in its race for market share.

Sources told Reuters in November that Gojek's valuation was between $9 to $10 billion.

The firm, which has launched its services in Singapore, Vietnam, and Thailand in 2018, is examining whether to expand to Malaysia, Aluwi said.

Ride-hailing services in South-east Asia are expected to surge to almost US$30 billion by 2025 from US$7.7 billion in 2018, according to a Google-Temasek report.

Asked about reports that Gojek was mulling the purchase of JD.com's Indonesia business, Mr Aluwi said they "had no near or medium plans to enter the e-commerce space".