Even in the payments space, Gojek lacks coordination in Thailand. Its local GET service lets users load money into their account for cashless payments in several ways, including by giving cash to a driver. But, to the frustration of many, that account credit can only be used to pay for motorbike taxi rides. Its food delivery service, which is extensively marketed and seemingly more popular, must be paid for using cash.
Like Go-Viet in Vietnam, GET has struggled to make a mark in Thailand. The company’s services are limited to food delivery and motorbike taxi rides. Grab offers those services alongside private cars, licensed taxis, courier deliveries and more.
The Age of China’s Glory
Grab is the frontrunner across the Southeast Asia region. Its presence was enough to convince Uber to pack its bags and focus on more winnable battles elsewhere in the world. Today, Grab operates in around 200 cities, claiming more than 150 million app downloads to date and more than 6 million completed rides per day. Little is known of its financials, but Grab said its revenue reached $1 billion in 2018, with the figure estimated to double in 2019.
Gojek holds home-court advantage in Indonesia, where it claims to have been downloaded over 125 million times since launching its app in 2015. Across all its services, annualised transaction value has reached $9 billion, the company claimed, of which $6.3 billion comes via its GoPay service. But, it remains unclear how it calculates that figure. An internal document shared with us covering Gojek’s 2017 financial data, suggests the company double-counts some transactions—once as a ride, food delivery or courier transaction, and then again as GoPay if the booking is paid for using the e-wallet—which would inflate the final number significantly.
What is more clear, however, is that Grab is increasingly encroaching on Gojek’s turf. In 2017, Grab doubled down on Indonesia with a $700 million investment commitment, which was boosted by a further $2 billion in 2019. Beyond figures, its operations have shifted, too. Its second headquarters are in Indonesia, and CEO Anthony Tan is said to spend 70% of his time in the archipelago.
“Regardless of how it expands, Gojek needs to remain strong in Indonesia, a market that on its own already drives success in the region,” said Yinglan Tan, founding managing partner at Insignia Venture Partners. Instead of going head-to-head with Grab, Gojek may focus on certain services that work across Southeast Asia, such as logistics and cross-border payments, added Tan.
Thorn in Grab’s side
For Gojek to replicate its Indonesian ride-hailing empire—where it claims to have over 2 million drivers—elsewhere was always going to be a challenge of the highest order. But it appeared a necessary one in post-Uber Southeast Asia.
An investor in one of Gojek’s subsidiaries said Grab had successfully used its regional growth story to secure funding from investors through the years. Now, Gojek appears to have adopted the same approach, the investor added.