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Investors seem to believe that Sea can be all-conquering: The surge in its share price last year seems to price in the likelihood that, one day, it will own the entire region's market.   © Illustration by Takahiro Suganuma
The Big Story

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

E-commerce powered one of the pandemic's biggest winners

SHOTARO TANI and KENTARO IWAMOTO, Nikkei staff writers | Indonesia

JAKARTA/SINGAPORE -- 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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