Gojek launches ride-hailing app for eastern part of Singapore

Indonesian ride-hailing firm Gojek has launched a beta version of its app in Singapore, which can be downloaded starting from Nov 29. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Indonesian ride-hailing firm Gojek has launched a beta version of its app here.

Beta is tech talk for prototype, which means changes and tweaks may still be in the offing.

The app can be downloaded from Thursday (Nov 29). Indications are that a full launch will be held early next year.

During the beta phase, only rides beginning and ending in the eastern and south-central parts of Singapore will be available.

Gojek president Andre Soelistyo said: "It is with great pride that we begin the roll-out of our services in Singapore.

"We are launching in beta now, while we fine-tune to make sure it meets the high standards expected in Singapore."

During the beta phase, access to the app will be granted in batches "to balance ride demand and service capabilities ".

Gojek has been signing up drivers in recent weeks, but it is not known how many will swing over from the incumbent dominant app, Grab.

The Straits Times understands some 20,000 drivers have expressed interest in signing up with the newcomer, but the firm would not reveal how many have actually downloaded the app.

For drivers, its commission rate is 20 per cent - the same as Grab. Drivers will also be able to withdraw their earnings on a daily basis, something which Grab introduced early this year.

As for commuters, "there will be promos initially", Mr Soelistyo said, when asked how Gojek will differentiate itself from Grab.

Also, there will not be any dynamic pricing - where fares surge during peak hours - during this period.

"But once things stabilise, we hope pricing will not be the key determinant for people using us," he added.

He said it will be the "little details" which will set Gojek apart.

Mr Soelistyo, 35, would not say how long the promotions will last. "Who knows? The competition might do the same," he noted.

For a start, the Indonesian app will levy a base fare of $2.70, and 65 cents per kilometre. Grab charges a base fare of $2.50, plus a distance fare of 50 cents per kilometre, and time charge of 16 cents per minute.

The multi-function app firm - its services in Indonesia include food, massage and payments - has set aside US$500 million (S$685 million) to expand in South-east Asia, going head-on with Grab.

It started a motorcycle-hailing service in Vietnam three months ago, and has also started food delivery there. By mid-December, it will have a beta launch in Thailand, followed by the Philippines next year.

Mr Soelistyo said Gojek has 105 million app users in South-east Asia, just behind Grab's 110 million.

It aims to go for public listing in "three to five years' time", but the group as a whole is still not yet profitable. "Some parts are profitable," he said. "But we can't reveal which."

Meanwhile, Grab Singapore head Lim Kell Jay said: "We welcome competition. We believe more choice in the market enables innovation and promotes a higher level of service in the industry."

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