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Facebook and Paypal join Google, Tencent to back Indonesian food and payments giant Gojek

June 3, 2020

Gojek has secured an undisclosed amount of funding from new investors Facebook and PayPal and existing backers Google and Tencent, it announced today. Several other unnamed investors also participated.

Jakarta-based ‘super app’ Gojek, which provides myriad services including food delivery, payments, and ride-hailing across Southeast Asia, said in a statement that the investment came as part of the company’s “current fundraise.”

Back in March, Gojek co-CEOs Kevin Aluwi and Andre Soelistyo said in an internal memo to staff that Gojek had raised $1.2 billion as part of an ongoing funding round which had already secured $3 billion.

The identity of those investors was not mentioned at the time, though Singapore bank DBS, US credit card giant Visa, and Thailand’s Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) were rumored to have participated (Visa and SCB are known to be existing investors in Gojek.)

It wasn’t immediately clear if the latest injection from Facebook, Google, PayPal, and Tencent can be included in that $3 billion figure. Gojek said today that the new funding will help its “mission to boost Southeast Asia’s digital economy, with a focus on supporting payments and financial services in the region.”

Last month, rumors emerged that Facebook had been holding talks with Gojek about a potential partnership with its payments arm, GoPay. Reuters reported that the US firm was seeking regulatory clearance to operate a digital payments service of its own in Indonesia, which would likely necessitate some form of collaboration with an existing local player. Facebook was also said to have negotiated with GoPay rivals Ovo, which is backed by Gojek’s regional archrival Grab, and LinkAja, which is backed by the Indonesian state.

“GoPay has long been focused on increasing access to the digital economy among micro, small, and medium enterprises [MSMEs], the majority of which continue to rely on cash to operate due to the region’s large unbanked population,” Gojek said in its statement today.

“The latest influx of funding will support more of these businesses as they seek to digitize further, from micro-merchants selling wares on the street side up to large businesses looking to strengthen their digital payment infrastructure.”

The deal has echoes of Facebook’s blockbuster $5.7 billion investment in India’s Jio Platforms in April.

As I argued at the time, that transaction was partly directed at tapping into India’s vast agrifood ecosystem which, from farmers to food merchants, is already heavily reliant on the social network’s WhatsApp messaging service. Part of Facebook’s plan for India is to add payments and other digital financial services into the mix in an attempt to make WhatsApp even more indispensable to stakeholders in the country’s largely ‘unbanked’ rural economy.

Facebook said in a statement its investment in “Indonesia’s first and fastest growing app for ordering food, shopping, commuting, and making digital payments” is its first in the country, and underscores its “commitment to serving small businesses and helping bring them and their customers into the digital economy.”

“This investment will support Facebook and Gojek’s shared goal of empowering businesses and driving financial inclusion,” it continued. “WhatsApp helps small businesses communicate with customers and make sales, and together with Gojek, we believe we can bring millions of people into Indonesia’s growing digital economy.”

Gojek claims to have “digitized hundreds of thousands of merchants” and accrued 170 million users of its app across Southeast Asia.

Got a news tip? Email me at [email protected] or find me on Twitter at @jacknwellis

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