Go-Jek enters Singapore in challenge to Grab

SINGAPORE • Indonesia’s Go-Jek rolled out a beta version of its ride-hailing app in Singapore yesterday, moving into direct competition with arch-rival Grab on its home turf.

Go-Jek’s beta app will be available on Android and Apple devices to a limited number of consumers, the company said in a statement yesterday. The start-up asked for feedback from users during its early days so that it can improve service quality.

Many consumers and drivers have looked forward to Go-Jek’s entry after Grab cemented its grip on the city-state by agreeing in March to acquire the South-East Asian business of Uber Technologies Inc, eliminating its primary competition in the region.

Uber’s departure was followed by rising complaints from users about higher prices, delays and lapses in customer service. Drivers expressed frustration about reduced income.

“When there is only one dominant player in the market, the service level goes down and they stop hearing about customer complaints,” Go-Jek president Andre Soelistyo (picture) said at a media briefing in the city-state. “That’s a big starting point, to provide another choice.”

He described Go-Jek as a platform company that will begin with ride-hailing and then add more services in the future, similar to what the company did after entering Vietnam. Payments is a likely offering after the initial launch.

“For Singapore, another ride-hailing competitor cannot come soon enough,” said Benjamin Roberts, a Singapore resident unhappy with Grab’s cancellations and surcharges.

While Go-Jek began as a mobile app offering motorcycle taxi and logistics in 2015, it’s now expanded to have 100 million customers and 300,000 merchants for everything from beauticians to food delivery.

“Since 2015, we started out as a platform and all our product features gear toward creating different experience for consumers, merchants and drivers,” Soelistyo said. “We’ve done it before. It’s not a lip service. That gives us confidence.”

After Singapore, Go-Jek plans to enter Thailand, and then more countries in South-East Asia, according to Soelistyo.

Grab and Go-Jek are two of the most valuable start-ups in South-East Asia. Grab is valued at US$11 billion (RM46.2 billion), according to the research firm CB Insights. Go-Jek was said to hit about US$5 billion this year. — Bloomberg