Indonesian ride-hailing start-up Go-Jek has made its foray into the cryptocurrency space with the acquisition of Philippine fintech company Coins.ph. Go-Jek has been attempting to break into the Philippine market, unsuccessfully to date, after the nation’s transport regulatory board denied an application to operate in the country.
Go-Jek CEO Nadiem Makarim is excited to collaborate with Coins.ph and bring their joint services to the rising Philippine economy:
With the second largest population and a strong domestic economy, the Philippines is one of the most exciting markets in Southeast Asia and through this partnership with Coins.ph, we are humbled to take part in the country’s digital payments transformation.
While the details of the deal remain unknown, TechCrunch reports that 2 of its sources say that the acquisition was made for $72 million. The deal makes Go-Jek the majority stakeholder in the company.
Coins.ph CEO and co-founder Ron Hose spoke to TechCrunch over the phone, saying:
We had to make a decision on how we want to continue growing our business, and we felt like ultimately together with Go-Jek we could build something that is overall bigger and better for our customers.
Go-Jek also runs a payments service called GoPay, which allows users to transfer money and offers insurance and micro-loans. This is where Coins.ph comes in as it will help “to encourage a cashless society and enhance access to financial services in the Philippines.”
Southeast Asia is a hotbed for cryptocurrency activity, as the benefits of blockchain technology are most suited to help the citizens of developing nations grow economically. Cross-border payments and documentation for financial services are expensive and onerous in the region, where many individuals are migrant workers who send money back to their families.
Start-Ups Looking into Cryptocurrency
Go-Jek is backed by the likes of Google and Tencent, and competes with startups like Grab. The brand is one of the most well-known from South East Asia and was the only one from the region that ranked in Fortune’s 2017 list of 50 companies that changed the world.
Coins.ph offers a wide range of fintech related services, including crypto and mobile payments. Following an expansion move, the startup now operates in Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore. It was in the midst of raising more funds when the deal with Go-Jek surfaced.
Even once-startups like Facebook are looking into cryptocurrency for payments on their platforms.
The social media giant has an in-house division that focuses exclusively on cryptocurrency, led by former PayPal president and current VP of Messaging Products David Marcus. The company announced their first effort – a stablecoin pegged to fiat currency for WhatsApp payments, intended for the remittance markets in India.
Cryptocurrency insider Anthony Pompliano has said that “Facebook would build the most-used crypto product.”