Go-Jek releases beta ride-sharing app to kick off Singapore launch

Indonesian ride-sharing platform launches beta version of its mobile app, marking the start of of its anticipated entry into the Singapore market, where it looks to challenge incumbent Grab.

Indonesia's Go-Jek has unleashed a beta version of its ride-sharing app in Singapore, marking the start of its anticipated entry into the market where it will be looking to challenge incumbent Grab.

Available for download on Google Android and Apple iOS devices, the beta app was party of the company's "staggered approach" to ensure its foray into the market was smooth, Go-Jek said in a statement Thursday. This also would allow user experience to be continuously improved, it added.

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Go-Jek President Andre Soelistyo said: "Consumers throughout the country have told us they want more choice in this sector and, with the launch of our beta app, their wait is coming to an end. We are launching in beta for now, while we finetune our service to make sure it meets the high standards expected by Singaporeans."

Soelistyo further called on consumers and drivers to provide feedback on an ongoing basis via the app's Help function. The company this, alongside its rider data analytics, would be tapped to enhance its service offerings in the lead up to its official launch.

Go-Jek, which investors included Google, Tencent, and Temasek Holdings, was looking to Singapore as its regional hub and drive its expansion across Southeast Asia.

Launched in January 2015 as a motorcycle delivery and ride-sharing platform, Go-Jek's service portfolio currently included payments and logistics. In Indonesia, where it had roped in more than 1 million drivers and 30,000 service providers, its app clocked more than 108 million downloads and facilitated more than 100 million transactions a month.

Earlier this month, it inked a partnership with Singapore's DBS Bank as part of an agreement to collaborate on payment services in the local market as well as other Southeast Asian market

With the beta launch, access to the Go-Jek app would be provided "in batches" in a bid to "balance ride demand and service capabilities", the company said. DBS customers using the app could enjoy certain privileges such as being placed as a priority on the waitlist.

Go-Jek's entry had been hotly anticipated in Singapore where the market had shrank with the acquisition of Uber's regional business by incumbent, Grab.

The Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) in September found the Grab-Uber merger to have impeded market competition and fined each more than S$6 million. The CCCS said there hand been numerous complaints from local drivers and riders over spikes in fares and commissions Grab had imposed following the acquisition.

Grab refuted the charges, describing the regulator's decision as "unfortunate" and assuming a "very narrow market definition". It said commuters remained free to choose between street-hail taxis and private hire cars and that it supported regulations in which drivers could choose the platform on which they drove.

In the past year, Grab had been building up its app to support various services including transport, food, logistics, messaging, mapping, and payments. These were part of its plans to offer an "everyday superapp" through which consumers could access daily essential needs.

In July, it launched an API (application programming interfaces) framework GrabPlatform, to enable third-parties to access components of Grab's technology so they could to build and integrate their own service offerings with its app.