Indonesian ride-hailing startup GO-JEK is getting set to launch a preliminary version of its ride-hailing app in Singapore this week, taking on rival Grab. According to Bloomberg, sources said GO-JEK’s beta app will be available to a limited number of consumers before it expands to a wider population in the future.
GO-JEK first expanded into Vietnam, then Thailand. Its Chief Executive Officer Nadiem Makarim said the company will use promotions to enter the Singapore market.
“It’s time to rebalance the equilibrium and add a lot more consumer- and driver-friendly policies, and introduce some competition,’’ Makarim said. “But it will be a healthy competition. At the end of the day, the biggest factor will not be in the price competition, but on how we treat our drivers.”
Grab and GO-JEK are two of the most valuable startups in Southeast Asia. Grab is valued at $11 billion, while GO-JEK is expected to hit about $5 billion this year.
Consumers in Singapore are likely to welcome a new addition to the ride-hailing market. Since Grab acquired the Southeast Asian business of Uber, eliminating its primary competition in the region, there have been numerous complaints about higher prices, delays and lapses in customer service. In addition, drivers are unhappy about a decrease in income.
“For Singapore, another ride-hailing competitor cannot come soon enough,” said Benjamin Roberts, a resident of Singapore.
As GO-JEK is entering Singapore, Grab escalated its rivalry with the company by announcing in August that it plans to invest $250 million in Indonesian startups over the next three years through its new innovation arm.
Earlier in the same month, the firm revealed that it had raised $2 billion in funding in recent months, adding that it will use a significant portion of the proceeds to continue investing in Indonesia. One way to do that is through its Grab Ventures arm, which will develop technology startups in sectors beyond ride-hailing. Grab has more than 7.1 million micro-entrepreneurs on its platform, more than half of whom reside in Indonesia.