Indonesia’s Tokopedia joins hands with Uber in strategic partnership

Employees walk down the corridor at the Tokopedia headquarters. Photo: Bloomberg

Indonesia’s e-commerce major Tokopedia and U.S. ride hailing giant Uber are joining hands in the country in a strategic collaboration that could cover merchant deliveries and payments.

As part of the partnership, a select Tokopedia users can now book an Uber ride from the Tokopedia app. The partnership, which will be made official in the next few weeks, will be extended to all of Indonesia soon. While merchant deliveries are not included in the partnership for now, sources say it will cover deliveries as well in future.

Emails sent to both Tokopedia and Uber remained unanswered at the time of publishing this article.

In addition to Tokopedia’s reach, Uber stands to benefit from using the former’s e-wallet, TokoCash, to enable payments. Right now, the ride hailing firm accepts cash or credit card payments. However, there is a minor hurdle to cross here – Tokopedia had to recently freeze some of the features of its e-wallet in what it claims is a temporary measure due to pending regulatory approval.

The partnership between these two startups, both unicorns, shows how strategic alliances are becoming critical to survival. Experts point out how players are building synergies across five key areas — a platform – online or offline, products and services, finance/ payments, distribution- last mile as well as distribution centre, and media.

There has been a push for a larger ecosystem play from startups. Uber’s biggest competitor in Southeast Asia, Grab, recently partnered with autonomous vehicle technology startup in a $15 million deal and made an investment in bike sharing startup, oBike. Besides its interests in transport, it has also extended the scope of its business to encompass financial technology, following its $100 million acquisition of Kudo, which is crucial to the firm building out its GrabPay platform.

Earlier examples include a partnership between Go-Jek and taxi company Blue Bird in Indonesia. The Go-Jek app allows users to book a Blue Bird taxi and pay through Go-Jek’s cashless payment service, Go-Pay.