Go-Jek is going international.
But unlike the likes of Grab, Uber and China's Didi Chuxing, Go-Jek isn't seeking to operate under its own name or operate its own franchise in new markets; instead, it plans to seek a local partner in Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines.
"Consumers are happiest when they have choice and at the moment, people in Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines don’t feel that they’re getting enough when it comes to ride-hailing," said Nadiem Makarim, CEO and founder of Go-Jek.
Seemingly alluding to the regulatory concerns that have so far held up Grab's deal with Uber, he added: "Our aim is to partner with countries and their governments to bring benefit to everyone who uses our technology."
Go-Jek, which closed a $1.5 billion funding round in February, says it intends to spend $500 million on its international expansion.
However, Go-Jek will not at this stage be offering its full range of services outside Indonesia. The company has made a heavy push into fintech and payments in Indonesia, including the purchase of three companies in December. It is sticking to its ride-hailing roots as it expands, at a time when both homegrown companies including Grab and China's expansive fintech players are seeking their share of Southeast Asia's digital wallet.
"We have been considering international expansion for a long time and wanted to make sure that we initiate a plan when we’re in the strongest possible position to do so," said Andre Soelistyo, Go-Jek's president.
“Our most recent funding saw the addition of a significant number of strategic investors both Indonesian and global. We are therefore confident that we have the support needed to take one of the most amazing growth stories in the world from being an Indonesian phenomenon to a regional one.”
The most recent funding round saw the likes of Astra International, Google, JD.com, Meituan, Tencent and Singapore state investor Temasek back Go-Jek, according to the press release announcing the expansion.
Investors will now want to keep an eye not just on how Go-Jek is received in its new territories and who its new partners will be, but also its impact on Grab. As regulators continue to scrutinise the merger with Uber, one question is – will the arrival of a competitor make that deal more palatable to the authorities?
"As to whether Go-Jek’s announcement will alleviate the regulatory pressure on Grab, it depends on the metrics used by the different countries’ regulators," said analyst Corrine Png, founder and CEO of Crucial Perspectives.
"If regulators can be satisfied by simply having the presence of two ride-hailing giants (Go-Jek and Grab) in their respective countries then Grab’s regulatory problems are over. But if regulators are looking at metrics such as market share levels or comparing commuter fares before and after the Grab-Uber deal then it is likely that these regulatory probes will require much more time to conclude."
Meanwhile in another sign of the growing internationalisation of the sharing economy, Chinese bike-sharing giant Mobike announced its first venture into India, launching its services in the city of Pune.