Cash splash: How Sea became Southeast Asia's biggest public company

As the coronavirus pandemic swept through Indonesia last year, the homebound population turned to e-commerce, first for survival, and then out of habit, for everything from daily groceries to financial products. One of these new converts was Meta Jayanti, a civil servant in the prosperous Javanese capital of Semarang.

Previously a loyal customer of Tokopedia — the e-commerce app she used to buy anything from face masks to instant noodles, delivered swiftly to her door every few days by motorbike — she gradually switched to its rival Shopee. The app boasted free delivery on some purchases and “a more varied product offering,” the 31-year-old said. She recently bought a study desk, something she couldn’t find on Tokopedia.

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