Uber and Grab rival, Go-Jek, plans to expand across South East Asia, announces CEO Nadiem Makarim

Indonesian ride-hailing service Go-Jek has announced a planned expansion across South East Asia.

Go-Jek was Indonesia’s first tech unicorn ($1bn start-up) and it is thought the planned expansion will escalate existing rivalries with popular services Uber and Grab.

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CEO and co-founder Nadiem Makarim has not yet announced which countries Go-Jek will target but they will be at least three highly-populated ASEAN nations where cash is the most popular payment method.

The three largest markets available would therefore be the Phillippines, Vietnam and Thailand which have a combined population of 270mn.

This statement also suggests that Go-Jek’s new e-payment app, which was launched in Septemeber, will be a key service offered in the new regions.

Rival Grab also recently introuduced an e-payment service as a means of scaling up business to a market of people with less acess to banking. A recent Paypal study suggested “cash is still king” on the Asian continent as a whole.  

Aided by investment from Softbank and Didi Chuxing, Grab has pushed into Go-Jek’s home market, Indonesia, which may have been a key prompt for Go-Jek to venture abroad for the first time.

According to Makarim: “We have always been on the defensive… it’s time to bring competition to their doorsteps.” He added, “It will be the first time we have faced tougher competition.”

Grab, in contrast, operates across seven countries already as South East Asia’s largest on-demand transport company. Interestingly, CEO Anthony Tan was a classmate of Makarim at Harvard Business School.

Makarim also stated of the expansion: “I think we’ve cracked the model of a platform that works in an emerging economy where infrastructure isn’t great… there is a high likelihood that we would leverage our full stack. If we come in, we come in with the whole sweep of weapons.”

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