Indonesian start-up hopes to launch here soon, with ride-hailing and logistics service initially
Go-Jek aims to have hundreds of staff in Singapore A Go-Jek advertisement in Jakarta. Go-Jek is keeping a close eye on how Singapore's competition watchdog acts on the Grab-Uber merger. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

It has no firm date for its Singapore debut yet, but Indonesian start-up Go-Jek said it will launch a ride-hailing and logistics service in the Republic for a start, and is hopeful of growing the business to have "hundreds of employees" here.

The firm is also keeping a close watch on how Singapore's competition watchdog acts on the Grab-Uber merger, which was provisionally found to be anti-competitive earlier this month.

Go-Jek president Andre Soelistyo told The Straits Times last week that the outcome of the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore's (CCCS) final report will play a "significant role in determining our entry strategy".

Mr Soelistyo would not elaborate more on the firm's strategy except to say: "At the moment, commencing operations in the country carries a significant amount of risk due to market conditions and high costs. We need to understand the level of that risk before we can fully finalise our plans."

The commission had proposed several measures to counter the lessening of competition resulting from Grab's acquisition of Uber's South-east Asian business in March.

Among them are Grab removing obligations that drivers operate exclusively for it, and that the Singapore-based start-up maintains its pre-merger pricing algorithm and driver commission rates.

A final decision on the merger will be made after taking into account evidence and feedback, as well as any representation from parties involved, the commission had said earlier.

Assistant Professor Yang Nan from the National University of Singapore's Business School said the CCCS' final decision is very important for potential players in this field.

This is because it will "not only materially impact the competitive environment of the industry, but also strongly signals Singapore's anti-trust standpoint", Prof Yang told ST.

He expects that the final measures imposed by the commission will not be very different from the ones proposed. Grab has said it will submit a written representation on Thursday based on the CCCS' provisional findings and proposed measures.

While there are at least four other players - Ryde, Filo, Kardi and Jugnoo - currently operating in the ride-hailing sector in Singapore, Go-Jek is seen by observers as the one which will give dominant player Grab a run for its money.

Mr Soelistyo said he is hopeful of the firm launching in Singapore within the next few months.

Recruitment is under way and since Go-Jek announced in May that it will be entering Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines, the firm has been liaising with regulators and other stakeholders in the respective markets, he said. This is so Go-Jek "starts off on the right foot" with the authorities in Singapore, he added.

While Go-Jek offers a suite of on-demand services in Indonesia, such as food delivery and massages, it will move into the ride-hailing and logistics areas first in Singapore as these are "most in need of solid competition", Mr Soelistyo said.