November 29, 2018 / 8:29 AM / 20 days ago

Indonesia's Go-Jek starts trial launch in Singapore, challenges Grab

FILE PHOTO: A Gojek driver rides his motorcycle through a business district street in Jakarta, June 9, 2015. . REUTERS/Beawiharta

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Indonesian ride-hailing firm Go-Jek kicked off a trial launch in parts of Singapore on Thursday and plans to roll out an array of services through its app in early 2019, challenging dominant player Grab in the small city-state.

Both Go-Jek and Grab are raising billions of dollars and investing aggressively in the race to corner a bigger share of Southeast Asia, as more of the region’s 640 million consumers go online and use smartphones to shop, commute and make payments.

Go-Jek, backed by the likes of Tencent Holdings, Alphabet Inc’s Google and Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings, is initially launching ride-hailing service in parts of Singapore after forming a partnership with DBS Group Holdings, the region’s biggest bank.

“As this is a new product, we will obviously give promotions, but at the end of the day it shouldn’t only be pricing that differentiates our services,” Go-Jek’s president, Andre Soelistyo, told reporters on Thursday.

Grab, backed by Japan’s SoftBank and Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing, bought Uber Technologies’ loss-making Southeast Asian business this year, marking the first big consolidation in the region.

Following this, Singapore’s anti-trust watchdog slapped Grab and Uber with fines and imposed measures to open up the local market to competitors after concluding that their merger had driven up prices.

Go-Jek’s executives declined to give any details on how many drivers it had signed up or a target for market share in Singapore, but said payment services would be launched later.

Started in 2011 in Jakarta, Go-Jek has evolved from a ride-hailing service to a one-stop app through which its customers can make online payments and order everything from food, groceries to massages.

Reporting by Anshuman Daga; Editing by Himani Sarkar

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