JAKARTA -- Indonesia's most valuable tech company Gojek is on the verge of acquiring Moka POS, a developer of payment terminals for small- and mid-sized enterprises, according to sources with knowledge of the deal.
Founded in 2014, Moka was one of the early birds in Indonesia's fintech scene and it has raised close to $40 million from investors that include the prolific early-stage investor East Ventures and "unicorn maker" Sequoia Capital. Moka payment terminals can be used in many boutiques and restaurants all over the country.
Despite the sources saying that Moka is in the process of being merged with the much larger Gojek, CEO Haryanto Tanjo said it was only a rumor. "We do not comment on market speculation," he told KrASIA.
Tanjo pointed out that Moka is partnering with Gojek's wallet Go-Pay in its payment ecosystem, which means that Moka's partners can accept Go-Pay as a form of cashless payment. Moka also accepts digital payments from many other companies, some of which can be seen as rivals to Go-Pay, including Ovo (the wallet used by Grab), and other mobile wallets like Dana and LinkAja. The Moka POS also accepts credit card-like cashless payments solutions offered by Kredivo and Akulaku.
Gojek said it did not want to comment on "rumors and speculation."
The acquisition of Moka fits the pattern of how Gojek has built out its payments capabilities in the past.
In 2016, it acquired MVCommerce, a strategic move through which it obtained the e-money license that formed the base for its Go-Pay wallet. In 2017, it acquired Midtrans, Kartuku, and Mapan, well-established payments companies that each cater to a different business segment.
Moka, with is close ties to offline SME merchants, would form another piece in the puzzle. Helping to promote the use of Go-Pay for purchases made offline is just one of the upsides it brings.
In a recent interview, Moka Chief Technology Officer Grady Laksmono told KrASIA that the company has 18,000 merchants in 200 cities in Indonesia in its network and that it has grown beyond its original function as a mobile POS. It now also includes a client relationship management program, human resources management software, and a way to channel loans to merchant partners.
A merger also makes sense for other reasons. Gojek is one of the few local apps that has achieved mass scale. Aligning with Gojek could bring Moka the benefit of having access to tens of millions of users and a large merchant network that it may not have had exposure to before.
Gojek will want to fortify its position in Indonesia and lock in as many partners as possible, given that its biggest rival, Grab, recently said it would continue to invest and expand with potentially billions of dollars.
From Moka's point of view, being acquired by a larger company is a way for it to deliver returns to its shareholders. Many startups share the same investors. Moka and Gojek, for instance, are both part of Sequoia India's portfolio.
In relatively immature markets such as Indonesia, where exit opportunities through initial public offerings, could still be years away, 'exit to unicorn' has become a popular outcome.
Gojek has taken over several startups, another recent case being ticketing platform Loket, to strengthen its position in various verticals.
Meanwhile, Pawoon, a Moka competitor, recently sold a 30% ownership stake to Indonesian tech firm Diva, which is listed domestically.
KrASIA is a digital media company focused on technology-driven businesses and trends across the Asia-Pacific region. It is under 36Kr, a tech news portal based in Beijing. Nikkei announced a partnership with 36Kr on May 22, 2019.