Indonesian unicorn Go-Jek has opened its app to passengers in Singapore after it hits a roadblock in the Philippines.
Consumers can now sign up for Gojek’s ride-hailing services via the iOS or Android app. First-time riders will receive two SGD 5 vouchers, which they can use for two rides within two weeks of signing up. Go-Jek’s initial Singapore beta offering, launched on 29 November 2018, was open to a limited customer base, including DBS and POSB Bank customers, and covered a portion of the island. It now operates across the city and is open to all 5.8 million residents.
Meanwhile, regulators in the Philippines have rejected Go-Jek’s bid to enter the market citing that the company violated foreign ownership regulations. The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board’s accreditation committee denied an application from Velox Technology Philippines — Go-Jek’s local affiliate — to start a transport network company that will challenge Singapore-based Grab.
However, the setback may only be temporary as the firm, whose backers include Alphabet Inc’s Google, could appeal the decision or team up with Filipino investors.
“Go-Jek can get a local partner that will own at least 60% of the ride-hailing entity to comply with the law,” said January Sabale, head of communications at the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
According to the country’s laws, foreigners can own only up to 40% of public utilities. According to some reports, Go-Jek owns 99% of Velox through a Singaporean subsidiary.
Go-Jek, with a valuation of over USD 1 billion, announced last year plans to enter four new markets, and the Philippines remains the only country where it has not been able to launch operations. It started offering services in Vietnam through its local partner Go-Viet in September, while it launched a beta service in Singapore, as well as in Thailand through local partner GET, toward the end of 2018.