Grab, SoftBank Group, and Tokopedia at a meeting with President Joko Widodo at Merdeka Palace

You may have read this exclusive Reuters report about Southeast Asian ride-hailing giant Grab’s plan to merge OVO, its e-wallet service with DANA– an Indonesia-focussed e-wallet platform run by a joint venture between Ant Financial and Emtek Group.

Citing people familiar with the matter, the report mentioned that the deal would see Grab buy a “majority interest” in DANA from Emtek then merge it with OVO. None of the companies have confirmed or denied the news.

All of this was certainly part of Grab’s major plan to compete with old-time rival Gojek.

If you have been on Twitter today, then you would be aware that this has been the topic that some Indonesian startup industry players have been discussing (apart from Bukalapak laying off employees). The initial reaction was to collectively drop our jaw; but then like the rest of the world, I wondered what it meant for the ecosystem.

My conclusion is that for the first time ever, Gojek should really consider its next best move, as this might just be the hit that will topple them down from the throne.

Also Read: Grab reveals details of Vietnam investment plan, to invest US$500M over 5 years

But first, let us look at the statistics.

In August, DailySocial published a report based on research by iPrice Group and App Annie. The research revealed that Go-Pay is the most downloaded and used e-wallet service in Indonesia, a market that is widely known to be heavily cash-reliant.

It is stated that from Q4 2017 to Q2 2019, Gojek’s Go-Pay has been consistently the most downloaded and used app among users in Indonesia.

In Q2 2019, Go-Pay was closely followed by OVO. If you pay attention to the infographic in the report, you will realise that for some time, OVO has been battling LinkAja (formerly known as Tcash and backed by major state-owned enterprises) to become the second top e-wallet service.

Having its starting point in the fourth position in Q4 2018, you will see that DANA immediately jumped to the third position, pushing LinkAja down to the fourth place.

After those four platforms, the rest of the list was dominated by platforms launched by private and state-owned banks such as CIMB Niaga and BTPN. Doku, once the top e-wallet service in the country, sits calmly on number nine, proving how time has changed.

Phew, such intense paragraphs to write.

Also Read: Consumer credit company Experian invests in Grab’s Series H round

Now, another set of information that we need to keep in mind: OVO is now the official e-wallet service for e-commerce unicorn Tokopedia while DANA has worked with Bukalapak to launch e-wallet BukaDana (because, well, they are both a portfolio of Emtek).

From Gojek’s side, the company has recently launched a partnership with LinkAja that will enable users to use it on Gojek’s platform. A partnership that came up as a surprise when it was first announced that I had to write another opinion piece about it.

Apart from that, Google’s investment into Gojek has also enabled Go-Pay to become a payment option for purchases on Google Play Store.

So we are now talking about a battle that features Grab-OVO-Dana-Tokopedia-Bukalapak on one side, and Gojek-LinkAja-Google Play Store on the other.

This is basically Helm’s Deep and whichever side you are rooting for, I hope they get to look to the East and find the help that they need.

So what kind of help do these companies need? To answer that, we just have to look at the customers and see what drives them to use a particular e-wallet platform.

Sadly, the answer is still promos, discount, and cashback offers.

Also Read: Today’s top tech news, July 11: Grab warns of a possible increase in fares with new regulations in Malaysia

But I am not worried. See the lead image used for this article? We received them from Grab’s PR team when the company, together with investor SoftBank Group and Tokopedia, attended a meeting with President Joko Widodo at Merdeka Palace where SoftBank stated its commitment to invest US$2 billion to “grow Indonesia’s digital infrastructure.”

Generally, both Grab and Gojek are also in the process of fundraising, and they definitely do not aim for a US$50,000 seed funding round.

I can see Gandalf in the horizon, but it remains to be seen which side he is on.

Image Credit: Grab