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Gojek stems losses after merchants go digital in the pandemic

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Gojek driver distributes foodstuffs to residents affected by COVID-19 outbreaks, in Bogor, Indonesia, June 5, 2020. The Indonesian government distributes food aid to people affected by Coronavirus outbreaks, through online transportation operators. (Photo by: Aditya Saputra/INA Photo Agency/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
The Indonesian government distributes food aid to people affected by coronavirus outbreaks, through online transportation operators. (PHOTO: Aditya Saputra/INA Photo Agency/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

By Yoolim Lee

(Bloomberg) -- Gojek, Indonesia’s most valuable startup, has staunched losses this year from key services such as ride-hailing and delivery, putting the company on track for eventual profitability.

Co-Chief Executive Officers Andre Soelistyo and Kevin Aluwi said in an interview Gojek’s annualised gross transaction value across four Southeast Asian countries climbed 10% from a year earlier to more than $12 billion as of the end of September. And the number of registered food merchants using its platform to reach consumers in Southeast Asia hit 900,000 this month, almost doubling from 500,000 a year ago.

“It’s so easy to charge more for short-term profitability, but if customers, drivers and merchants think we are a better platform, then we will be able to monetise,” Soelistyo said. “For us, sustainability is the mantra.”

Gojek, which got started as a tiny call centre in Jakarta connecting consumers and motorcycle drivers, celebrated its 10th anniversary on Thursday. The car-hailing giant in 2020 streamlined its core businesses and expanded deeper into groceries. Since Covid-19, its groceries business has grown six-fold in terms of annualised total transaction value, underling surging demand during the pandemic, according to the company. Gojek is emerging from a hard year as lockdowns and wariness about spending triggered an Indonesian downturn and forced the company to cut jobs.

It now has about 38 million monthly active users across Southeast Asia, while gross transaction value in its payments-related businesses have exceeded pre-pandemic levels as more consumers and merchants turn to digital services.

Indonesia’s economy is over the worst of its post-Covid slump, while household spending and investment should help it recover, according to its finance minister. Gross domestic product will grow 0.1% in the fourth quarter after the country posted its first back-to-back economic contraction since the Asian financial crisis of two decades ago, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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