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The digital service economy is evolving in some interesting ways in Southeast Asia.
Ride-hailing apps like Indonesia-based firm Go-Jek started out as a way for urban residents to use their smartphones to book motorcycle taxis, thereby avoiding local traffic jams. But Go-Jek is quickly establishing itself among consumers as a gateway to a host of other online services.
That expansion was evidenced this week by Go-Jek’s purchase of Loket, a live event management and online ticketing platform headquartered in Jakarta, for an undisclosed figure.
The acquisition continues Go-Jek’s efforts to extend its services well beyond ride-hailing in order to build its user base. (The company’s app has been downloaded 44 million times since it was rolled out in January 2015, according to Nikkei Asian Review.)
Go-Jek currently operates its own movie ticketing platform, Go-Tix, which is likely to be merged into Loket’s own services. But Go-Jek users can already book a host of other services through its app, including food delivery, couriers, home cleaning, massages and even auto repairs. In addition, users can complete transactions using Go-Jek’s digital payments service, Go-Pay.
Data from JakPat reflects a willingness among consumers to use digital payments for a range of services. A December 2016 survey of digital cash users in Indonesia found that 46.7% used the payment method for transportation services like Go-Jek. But 42.0% had used it for digital shopping, and a little more than one-quarter for buying groceries.
Loket is looking to tap into Go-Jek’s scaling abilities and experience in digital payments to help smooth the customer experience at the live events it manages. In return, Go-Jek gains an advantage in its efforts to corner the market for on-demand ticketing services.
“This collaboration will eventually be able to provide various services that can help promoters solve the main problems of an event; for example, ticket distribution, audience management and the provision of innovative entertainment,” said Go-Jek CEO Nadiem Makarim in a statement.
Like many other service-focused tech companies in Asia, Go-Jek appears to be taking a cue from WeChat, the messaging platform operated by Tencent in China. WeChat has become almost ubiquitous among consumers by offering a broad range of services that can be completed without ever leaving the app.
Go-Jek is reportedly being aided in its efforts to become the WeChat of Southeast Asia by none other than Tencent. In May, TechCrunch reported that Tencent was leading a new round of investment in Go-Jek to the tune of $1.2 billion. And in early July, Reuters reported that Tecent’s investment was somewhere between $100 million and $150 million.
Go-Jek will need the cash to help take on its main homegrown rival, Singapore’s Grab. The latter service similarly started as an on-demand transportation app, but has also expanded to offer users many other services through its app, including a digital payment system called—unsurprisingly enough—GrabPay.
Grab also pulled in $2.5 billion in funding in late July from some of the region’s heavy hitters, including Japan-based telecom SoftBank and China’s ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing.
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