In China and Southeast Asia, a number of apps have emerged that provide a wide range of core services that cover almost all of life’s needs within a single app—referred to as “super apps”. More specifically, super apps offer services including food delivery, travel booking, video streaming, and the purchase of insurance products. In addition, the provision of financial services via super apps is also set to expand going forward.
In China, the two leading super apps are Tencent’s WeChat and Alibaba affiliate Ant Group’s Alipay. Other companies use these platforms to lead customers to their services, or use the payment system to guide them to purchase services and goods. Both of these super apps have grown in China's unique internet environment, where domestic companies are protected by the “Great Firewall of China” (also known as the “Golden Shield Project”), which makes it difficult for foreign IT companies to enter the market. While certain features can be used outside China, it remains difficult for non-Chinese companies and foreign nationals to use these apps to their full extent.
In Southeast Asia, Grab and Gojek both started as ride-hailing apps but have been transforming into super apps by building their own platforms and partnering with other companies. These platforms are currently growing, and there are many opportunities for new companies to join. No longer simply referred to as ride-hailing apps, Grab and Gojek have added online and offline payment functionalities to their apps (GrabPay and GoPay), essentially becoming fintech companies.
The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic is having a major impact on consumer needs. For example, the use of ride-hailing services slumped due to lockdowns, while Gojek also announced the discontinuation of certain services, including its house cleaning service. Both Grab and Gojek have also had to reduce staff numbers due to the pandemic. On the other hand, the use of their food delivery and payment services is rising rapidly. In the face of this shifting consumer landscape, Grab, in particular, is focusing on the strengthening of its financial services, including its loan services for SMEs.
This report focuses primarily on Grab and Gojek, both of which are at a stage where their basic ecosystems are dynamically evolving in an open internet environment without any special restrictions, allowing for the participation of B2C and B2B companies from a wide range of industries.
Although financial data on Grab and Gojek is limited because both are private companies, publicly released materials indicate that Grab’s net revenue has been steadily growing in recent years, rising from USD 500 million in 2017 to USD 1.1 billion in 2018, and further to USD 2.3 billion in 2019. Meanwhile, according to its official blog, Gojek’s gross transaction value (GTV) totalled USD 90 billion in 2018. In terms of funding, Grab and Gojek have raised USD 1.01 billion (31 rounds, Series I) and USD 4.8 billion (10 rounds, Series F), respectively (excluding undisclosed funds; as of 30 October 2020 according to Crunchbase). Both have become so-called “decacorns”—privately held startups with a market cap in excess of USD 10 billion. While they primarily attracted venture capital in their early days, subsequent rounds have attracted major investments from Asian IT giants such as Alibaba, Tencent, and Softbank. Over the past two to three years, in particular, they have also received notable investments from multinationals in Japan, the US, and South Korea, as well as from conglomerates in the ASEAN region, for the purposes of business synergy.