Indonesia's Go-Jek eyes Philippine ride-hailing market

MANILA, Philippines – Indonesia-based Go-Jek and two more local firms are interested to enter the Philippine ride-hailing market, a few weeks after California-based Uber left the country.

Confirming a Reuters report, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Board Member Aileen Lizada told Rappler that Go-Jek executives will fly to the Philippines and meet with the agency on Tuesday, April 24, to discuss how the company can operate here.

"They would like to personally introduce themselves and probably they will ask for the requirements [for transport network company (TNC) accreditation]. We will listen to what they have to offer," Lizada said.

TNCs provide pre-arranged transportation services using internet-based applications or a digital platform, connecting passengers with drivers using their personal vehicles.

Back in December 2017, Go-Jek chief technology officer Ajey Gore told Reuters in an interview that his firm is planning to set up operations in the Philippines early this year, with other Southeast Asian countries to follow in the next few months.

Go-Jek, backed by private equity firms KKR & Co LP and Warburg Pincus LLC, was established in 2010 as a motorcycle ride-hailing phone service. It then evolved into an on-demand mobile platform, providing transportation, logistics, mobile payments, and food delivery, among others.

In February this year, the dominant Indonesian ride-hailing firm was able to raise over $1.5 billion from investors like BlackRock and Google.

More local ride-hailing firms

Other than Go-Jek, Lizada said there are two more local firms that have expressed interest in operating as a TNC: Cebu-based taxi-hailing platform MiCab and new ride-hailing firm Owto.

"Owto and MiCab are applying for [TNC accreditation], while U-Hop and Grab are applying for renewal of accreditation," Lizada told Rappler.

She added that the LTFRB is set to grant TNC accreditation to Hiro, another local ride-sharing firm. (READ: As Uber gives up Philippine operations to Grab, what now for commuters?)

The LTFRB earlier accredited GoLag Incorporated, Hirna Mobility Solutions Incorporated, and Hype Transport Systems Incorporated.

The entry of these new ride-hailing companies comes on the heels of the sale of Uber's Southeast Asian business to its rival Grab.

The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) earlier warned that Grab's buyout of Uber will mean gobbling up 93% of the local ride-hailing market.

"The accreditation of new TNCs is a welcome development to allow passengers to have more choices. We note, however, that the incoming TNCs are left with only 7% share in the market," said the PCC.

The PCC is currently reviewing the local implications of the Grab-Uber deal. The antitrust watchdog had also ordered Grab and Uber to explain why the latter shut down, despite the commission ordering it to continue operating while the review is ongoing.

Grab Philippines head Brian Cu called on the PCC to discuss the matter with them further, saying that keeping the Uber app functioning indefinitely would be costly. – Rappler.com