Taxi apps vie for prized market

Another competitor Ojek UI vs Go-Jek. Motorbikes have helped to dodge Jakarta’s notorious queues. Source: Flickr

Indonesia’s motorbike-hailing service Go-Jek has raised funding in excess of US$550 million from KKR, Warburg Pincus and other investors, boosting its bid to become the archipelago’s market leader.

Go-Jek, Uber and Grab are vying for investors. Go-Jek’s latest round of financing also included Farallon Capital, Capital Group Private Markets and existing shareholders.

Go-Jek, derived from the name for motorbike taxis, his becoming increasingly popular as a means to dodge Jakarta’s notorious traffic in one of the world’s most congested cities.

Grab introduced a similar service, GrabBike, in Indonesia in 2015, and Uber’s UberMoto opened this year but Go-Jek is seen as the market leader.

Harvard Business School graduate and co-founder Nadiem Makarim said Go-Jek was in talks with potential investors to generate funds.

Documents suggest Go-Jek had US$104 million in cash on its books in March and that it spent US$73 million over the previous six months.

The firm said it processed 20 million booking requests in June or around 667,000 per day.

It launched last year and has branched out into food deliveries, mobile payments and cleaning services.

Uber, valued at US$66 billion, has sold its Chinese branch to domestic rival Didi Chuxing, with market watchers expecting the global taxi-booking app to target Asean’s members and India instead.

Indonesia has the world’s fourth-largest populace and a young, internet-literate population.

Grab, which was co-founded by another Harvard graduate Anthony Tan, announced last month that it was teaming up with Indonesian conglomerate Lippo Group to develop a smartphone payment platform in what has become its most significant market.

Grab has raised around US$700 million from Japan’s SoftBank, sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp and Singapore’s state investor Temasek Holdings.

A protest of taxi drivers turned violent in Jakarta this year when they called for ride-booking apps to be blocked. Ministers have said the firms should be subject to the same regulations and tax requirements as other transport companies.