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After Uber exits, Indonesia’s Go-Jek is now live in Vietnam

It’s been three months since the Indonesian ride-hailing firm said it would expand into Southeast Asia.

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Go-Jek is expanding its operations.

ADEK BERRY/AFP/Getty Images

Since Uber left Southeast Asia six months ago, Grab (the company that bought over Uber's businesses in the region) has been touted as the region's ride-hailing king. But now it has a rival.

Go-Jek, an Indonesia-based ride-hailing firm, has taken the first step out of its home country to launch operations in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi. Go-Viet, which launched Wednesday, is described as an "on-demand multi-service platform" that gives users access to its bike-sharing and courier services.

This follows a soft launch in Ho Chi Minh City six weeks ago. The launch saw 1.5 million downloads, but not all of Go-Viet's services were made available immediately.

Vietnam is the first stage of the international rollout that Go-Jek first announced in May. The company plans to invest $500 million into the expansion, with Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines expected to come next, although no timeline has been given.

The company says it intends to add more services to Go-Viet including car-sharing, food delivery and digital payment.

"We are proud to share our uniquely Indonesian technology and to see people in other countries benefit from it through increased efficiency in urban mobility and most importantly, though improved overall welfare," said Nadiem Makarim, Go-Jek's founder and CEO.

"The success we've seen so far proves Vietnam is in need of more safe, reliable and convenient services. Consumers need more choice and the market needs more competition to allow the industry to grow sustainably," he added.

The arrival of Go-Viet doesn't seem to have affected Grab, which arrived Vietnam over four years ago and boasts a presence in 36 Vietnamese cities, according to a Grab spokesperson who told CNET the company has "not seen [its] market share fall in Ho Chi Minh City."

"In Vietnam, our business continues to grow tremendously. Transport is displaying strong month-on-month growth while our new verticals such as food and parcel delivery are growing robustly," the spokesperson added while also noting a 120 percent surge in demand for its food delivery services in the city.

Grab does however claim that its competitors have rushed into expansion at the expense of safety.

"We welcome competition in the market and we note that there are already more than nine players in the ride-hailing sector. When done right, competition betters the market," said the company's representative. "However, some new players to the industry chase growth and have lax screening procedures for on-boarding drivers. Furthermore, they have high fraud on their platform that could make passengers vulnerable to bad actors."

"These are serious issues for Vietnam and they may affect the long-term viability of the market. The livelihoods of responsible drivers are tied directly to the integrity of the players within the ecosystem," it added.

"Go-Viet is extremely focused on the safety of our users and partner drivers, and we prioritise safety at the highest level," Go-Jek's representative told CNET in an email. "All drivers undergo compulsory road safety training before becoming our partners. Drivers are also required to undertake regular safety training in order to remain a driver for Go-Viet. This is to ensure that drivers are able to protect not just passengers, but also themselves."

"Go-Viet [will] engage regularly with Go-Jek to learn from their operational experience. Upholding international standards on traffic, driver, passenger and pedestrian safety is a key element of this exchange," the spokesperson added.

First published Sept. 12, 4:25 a.m. PT
Update, Sept. 13 at 2:37 a.m. PT
 Adds comment from Grab.

Update, Sept. 14 at 2:28 a.m. PT : Adds comment from Go-Jek.

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