SINGAPORE: A larger pool of drivers and a wider range of services are some of the things Gojek users in Singapore can look forward to in the coming year, said the firm’s CEO Kevin Aluwi.
In an email interview with CNA, he said the ride-hailing giant aims to make a lasting impact in Singapore for years to come, and is making “strategic investments” to grow the business this year to ensure this.
For example, it will be enhancing its support measures and incentives for drivers with the aim of doubling their numbers this year, he said.
“We’ll also be launching new transport products to bring more benefits to customers and drivers, including a convenient transport platform for corporates, as well as dedicated features to book taxis and large vehicles,” said the Gojek co-founder, who shares the position of CEO with the firm’s former president Andre Soelistyo.
He added that Gojek – whose Singapore operations began with the opening of a data science office here in 2017 – will also continue to expand its tech talent pool in the country, especially in cybersecurity and data analytics, to promote the growth of its regional business.
The Indonesian firm is also exploring the potential launch of new services and products for Singapore that will “make sense in the market”, said Mr Aluwi.
“This could take the form of Gojek-owned services, or product launches through partnerships with leading service providers in the country,” he stated, without providing more details.
“I’m very excited about our plans for Singapore. It’s always been an important and strategic market for us – and one where ride-hailing has seen promising recovery amidst the country’s gradual reopening,” he said.
Reported to be valued at about US$10 billion, Gojek entered the Singapore market in late 2018 as part of a US$50 million regional expansion plan, following Uber’s exit from the region.
GOOD POSITION FOR STRONG GROWTH
Coming off the back of a challenging year, Gojek is in a “good position” for strong growth this year, said Mr Aluwi.
“COVID-19 has accelerated the growth of the digital economy and the global reliance on digital services is only going to increase. This is positive for a company like Gojek, as our mission, and the growth potential of our business, have always been contingent on the ongoing success of the digital economy,” he said.
The firm is prioritising areas such as helping small merchants move online as well as enhancing its payments and financial services offerings, he noted, adding that investing in and growing its markets outside Indonesia is a “key priority”.
“It is in these markets, including Singapore, that we’ve seen a faster recovery and we are in the strongest position we’ve ever been in to capitalise on this, following the unification of our apps and brands last year.”
While Gojek retained its name in Singapore during its regional expansion three years ago, it used the names GoViet and Get in Vietnam and Thailand respectively, with apps unique to the two countries.
This was reversed last year, when both were rebranded to Gojek, using the same app as in Indonesia.
“Unifying our apps and brands was a key step in optimising our business to more effectively scale in our international markets,” said Mr Aluwi.
“We’ve had some very promising early success in Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore, but we’ve really only just begun to scratch the surface in terms of growth potential in those markets. We will be focusing on unlocking that potential this year,” he said.
When asked if Gojek saw itself overtaking rival Grab, Mr Aluwi would only say that Gojek’s entry into Singapore was aimed at bringing “choice and competition” to the market.
According to 2018 figures from the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore, Singapore-based Grab holds about 80 per cent of the local ride-hailing market.
Besides ride-hailing, Grab also offers food and grocery deliveries, as well as financial services here. Gojek also offers such services in Indonesia, but has yet to introduce them to Singapore.
Gojek is focused on being a “trusted and loved ride-hailing platform”, which continuously refines its offerings to bring the “best value and benefits” to users, he said, adding it would continue to take a “deliberate approach” to rolling out services in Singapore.
“I’m afraid we’re unable to discuss rumour and speculation,” he said.
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Though ride-hailing was badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr Aluwi said it had since seen very healthy recovery, describing transport as a “highly promising source of revenue” due to investments in areas such as automation which enhanced the efficiency and quality of the platform.
With COVID-19 having changed habits and ways of life, new opportunities have surfaced, he said.
He noted Gojek’s groceries business had grown seven times since the outbreak started, and that as of December the firm’s revenue had returned to the same level as in March last year.
“I’ve actually been spending a lot of time with my team planning what the next couple of years will look like for Gojek,” said Mr Aluwi when asked what the future holds for the firm.
“We feel that we’re really only getting started in transportation, food delivery and logistics, and there is so much more to be unlocked in Southeast Asia.”