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COVID-19 in Indonesia: How tech companies are adapting in a time of crisis

Written by Khamila Mulia Published on   15 mins read

Following the speedy spread of the coronavirus, tech companies in the country are modifying their services to fit their users’ new routines.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Indonesia continues to soar, sending concern and anxiety through the populace, especially those who live in cities where clusters of infections have emerged. As of the early afternoon of June 19, the coronavirus has infected at least 42,762 people and killed 2,339 in Indonesia. Meanwhile, 23,625 Indonesian patients have reportedly recovered from the disease.

Indonesian president Joko Widodo has declared a national disaster due to the coronavirus outbreak. However, he has not locked down the country; at the moment, the president has called for Indonesians to maintain social distance from one another and work or study from home.

Facing the potential of lost business, tech companies in the country have adapted their services for users who are, for the foreseeable future, spending most of their time in their residences.

Infographics by Marline Luo.

June 1 to 19

Indonesian travel tech unicorn Traveloka has partnered with three health service providers to bring a COVID-19 test scheduling service to its platform. The feature allows users to book a time slot to be tested. At the moment, the Indonesian government requires those traveling long distances on public transportation to present a COVID-19 test certificate. The test scheduling service can be accessed on Traveloka Xperience under the “travel essentials” category. It is currently available for users in 44 cities across the country.

East Ventures-backed project Indonesia Pasti Bisa has produced and distributed 100,020 RT-PCR test kits to 19 provinces in Indonesia. Initiated in March, the project has raised IDR 10 billion for production and distribution. Indonesia Pasti Bisa worked with biotech startup Nusantics to design the RT-PCR test kits, as well as with pharmacy company Bio Farma, which provided the facilities and human resources to mass produce and distribute the test kits throughout Indonesia.

As businesses reopen in Indonesia, Loket, a company providing event and entertainment tech solutions, has prepared a series of services to support the “new normal” in public places like shopping malls and offices during the transitional period, ensuring the safety of visitors. These tools cover instant registration and capacity management, crowd control management, tracking management, and fast automated mitigation.

Online travel platform Tiket launched a feature called “Tiket Clean” to ensure its partners follow health standards and protocols set by the World Health Organization and Indonesian government. Partners that have met all the hygiene standards will receive the “Tiket Clean” label on the Tiket platform. Around 4,000 partners that include hotels, tourist attractions, and airlines have already obtained the label, Tiket said.

May 18 to 29 update:

Mitra Bukalapak and GrabKios, two offline-to-online platforms that support traditional kiosks, have teamed up to help nearly five million of Bukalapak’s kiosk partners sell a variety of digital products, from phone credit to train tickets, at competitive prices. This collaboration will be a boon for kiosk operators who have lost income due to large-scale social restrictions in several regions in the country.

As Indonesia began to loosen its restrictions on physical distancing, Gojek is providing a protective partition for GoCar vehicles as part of its new health protocols. The partition is expected to minimize interactions between drivers and passengers to prevent the coronavirus’ transmission. Gojek will provide the partition to GoCar driver partners in stages in major cities.

Logistics tech company Lalamove partnered with more than 30 NGOs, government departments, and businesses, offering free delivery to transport care packages—including over 125,000 face masks, 20,000 food packages, 52,000 bottles of hand sanitiser, and 21,000 pieces of personal protective equipment such as gloves and face shields. In all, the items were delivered to 86,000 people, namely the underprivileged, disabled youths, as well as schools and hospitals. The activities were carried out in Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Taipei, Manila, Cebu, Bangkok, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City, and Hanoi.

Singapore-based insurance tech startup Igloo (formerly known as Axinan) launched a digital insurance protection service against COVID-19 in collaboration with Indonesian e-commerce platforms Blibli and Bhinneka. Simply called “COVID-19 Protection,” the service is managed by insurance firm Ciputra Life as part of its small health microinsurance offerings. It provides Indonesians access to a year’s coverage with premiums starting from IDR 24,000 (USD 1.63), as well as benefits for hospitalization from IDR 50,000 (USD 3.40) per day for up to ten days.

Digital payment platform LinkAja teamed up with the IT ministry to launch online shopping payment solutions in 18 traditional marketplaces throughout Jakarta. To use the service, a user can contact the nearest LinkAja market partner and send them a shopping list. After compiling an order, the partner will send out a QR code so the user can pay for their products using the LinkAja app. The items are delivered to the customer’s residence once payment is completed.


May 4 to 15 update:

Lazada teamed up with Indonesian fintech startup Alumak to provide quick, small loans for merchants to keep their businesses afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. Alumak offers loans up to IDR 75 million (USD 5,000) that can be disbursed within three hours after applications are received and processed, which is much faster than the industry standard of one to two weeks. The application itself only takes around ten minutes to complete. This program is available to online sellers that have been operating on Lazada for at least six months.

Indonesia’s state-owned lender Bank BRI has partnered with Gojek and Grab to provide a low-interest loan facility for the ride-hailing platforms’ driver and merchant partners, whose income had been curtailed. Gojek and Grab drivers can apply for loans worth up to IDR 5 million (USD 335), while food merchants that fulfill orders over either platform can borrow up to IDR 20 million (USD 1,342) with a 24-month tenure. BRI is also freeing borrowers from payment obligations for the first three months.

RedDoorz launched a new mental health support program for its employees, hotel partners, and their staff. The COVID-19 hope hotline is part of RedDoorz’s regional corporate social responsibility program. RedDoorz has partnered with online platforms to conduct free remote counseling sessions, as many cities across the region are enforcing mobility restrictions.

Indonesian human resources startup Gadjian is collaborating with peer-to-peer lending firm KoinWorks to launch a program called Koin Gaji THR 2020. It aims to help business owners on a cash crunch due to the pandemic to pay mandatory Eid bonuses this month. The program is available to businesses that have at least five employees. Companies have to prove that they have cash flow problems, such as delayed payments from clients.

April 27 to May 1 update:

Indonesia Pasti Bisa, a collaborative movement initiated by East Ventures, reached its target of IDR 10 billion (USD 660,125) in a fundraising campaign to support the development and production of 100,000 RT-PCR test kits in Indonesia. A portion of the funds will also be used to support the logistics cost of the test kits’ distribution. The program’s corporate donors include local companies such as Tokopedia, Sociolla, Waresix, and Traveloka, as well as venture capital firms like East Ventures, EV Growth, and AC Ventures. Samora Group and Triputra Group also took part in the initiative. Parties from overseas also supported Indonesia Pasti Bisa, including Pavilion Capital, Adams Street Partners, as well as Zhang Yiming, the CEO of ByteDance.

Grab Indonesia, in collaboration with the Ministry of State Owned Enterprises, is providing 100 free GrabWheels electric scooters for medical workers treating COVID-19 patients at the emergency hospital in the former athletes village in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta. Grab will provide four GrabWheels stations in each tower, which will be manned by an operator 24 hours a day. The operators are tasked with providing information to users and maintaining the scooters.

Gojek launched its COVID-19 Info Center feature to provide information related to the disease. This new feature summarizes various statements and reports from official sources, including the government. It also connects users with Halodoc’s telemedicine services, so they can carry out independent health checks, acquire medication, and schedule rapid tests if needed.

Cognizant of the importance of sanitation in public places, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, hotel startup RedDoorz launched “Hygiene Pass,” an industry-wide cleanliness and sanitation certification program for the hospitality industry that was first introduced in Indonesia in collaboration with the Indonesian Public Health Association (IAKMI). Meanwhile, in Singapore, the properties under RedDoorz have obtained SG Clean certificate, a government-issued credential that encourages businesses and the public to uphold good sanitation standards and hygiene practices.

Hotel startup Oyo and mobile wallet Dana have joined a program called “Medical Warrior Shelter,” initiated by nonprofit organization Habitat for Humanity Indonesia. The program collects funds from corporate entities and the broader community through crowdfunding platform Kitabisa and a donation menu page on Dana’s app. The funds will be allocated to provide free hotel rooms for at least 500 medical workers stationed in five hospitals designated as COVID-19 treatment locations.

April 20 to 24 update:

East Ventures initiated a fundraising program called Indonesia Pasti Bisa in March to support the development and production of 100,000 COVID-19 test kits, called the RT-PCR kit. Now, they are preparing for mass production in collaboration with pharma company Bio Farma, which is producing test kits based on a design prototype that was developed by biotech startup Nusantics, one of East Ventures’ newest portfolio companies. Nusantics is a member of the COVID-19 Research and Technology Innovation Task Force (TFRIC19) that was formed by the Indonesia Technology Assessment and Application Agency (BPPT).

Tokopedia launched a campaign called Satu Dalam Kopi (Unity in Coffee) in collaboration with Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy as well as the Ministry of Industry. The joint effort is designed to support Indonesia’s coffee industry during the pandemic. Tokopedia invited around 1,000 local coffee businesses from across the country to sell their products on Tokopedia’s platform. It offers assistance and guidance on how to improve their branding and marketing. Moreover, the tech unicorn launched a dedicated page and features for coffee SMEs to interact with customers more conveniently.

Indonesian education tech startup Halodoc rolled out a new “COVID-19 test” feature, allowing users to book appointments for rapid tests and swab tests at a number of hospitals. The startup currently partners with 20 hospitals in the greater Jakarta area.

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan starts today. As people are encouraged to stay inside their homes due to the pandemic, Grab Indonesia and Gojek released new services to help Indonesian Muslims worship at home.

Grab Indonesia’s contactless campaign is called Siap Antar Ramadanmu (Ready to Serve Your Ramadan). As part of the initiative, GrabFood released a new “scheduled order” feature that gives customers the flexibility of ordering their food in advance by two hours to two days. Another new feature is GrabAssistant, an on-demand concierge service where customers can instruct delivery partners to buy products from specific shops.

Gojek’s initiative, eBadah, comprises different services, such as eSedekah, allowing users to make donations that will be distributed by several Islamic charity foundations. Gojek is also streaming sermons on its platform. To join the events, users need to purchase tickets, the proceeds of which will be donated to people in need.

April 6 to 17 update:

Gojek and education tech platform Halodoc provided access to COVID-19 rapid tests via drive-through stations for people with COVID-19 symptoms. The service was conducted in Jakarta from April 10 to 17. Gojek also launched a new grocery delivery service through GoFood called “daily necessities,” enabling consumers to purchase ready-to-eat food and groceries from its store partners. Moreover, Gojek has transformed its shelters into “COVID-19 Prevention Points,” which are now equipped with hand sanitizer and free masks.

GrabHealth powered by Good Doctor also provides free rapid testing and PCR tests for health workers and Grab drivers as they are very vulnerable to the coronavirus due to higher chances of exposure. In the first phase of this rollout, free rapid tests will be given to 1,000 medical workers and Grab driver and delivery partners. Those that test positive for the virus through the rapid tests will then undergo PCR testing for confirmation. The rapid test will be carried out in a drive-through setting, while the PCR test is conducted at hospitals.

Indonesian travel tech Tiket handed over 800 protective equipment kits to nonprofit foundation Aksi Cepat Tanggap (ACT) as the result of Tiket’s Berbagi Sehat campaign, which was held from March 28 to April 5. During this campaign, users converted some of their Tix Points (membership reward points) into donations for Tiket to purchase the equipment kits. Each kit consists of surgical masks, hand sanitizer, multivitamins, latex gloves, and hazmat suits that will be distributed by ACT teams to 38 hospitals throughout Indonesia.

Tokopedia, OVO, and Grab are raising money through their platforms for informal workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Users can make donations digitally; the cash will be spent on staple food packages. Partnering with a number of nonprofit organizations, these packages will be distributed to tens of thousands informal workers in the greater Jakarta area.

Bobobox, a capsule hotel startup, is providing 100 sleep pod facilities for medical personnel in Jakarta and West Java as they are at the frontline in handling the COVID-19 crisis. For this project, Bobobox is partnering with the Hong-Kong based Li Ka Shing Foundation, which donated USD 250,000 to construct the sleeping pods.

HR software provider Catapa launched a free package called “Catapa at Home” that can be accessed by companies of all sizes. The suite includes various services, such as an online attendance feature, a leave and overtime management system, as well as payroll and annual income tax calculators. Visit Catapa’s website to activate these free services.

Singapore-headquartered telehealth startup Doctor Anywhere launched its online COVID-19 Medical Advisory Clinic. Several major insurers, like Cigna Global and AIG, will partner with Doctor Anywhere to offer this service at no charge to their policyholders. In Singapore, users can use the feature for video consultations with a doctor about symptoms and their travel history. If the doctor suspects that a user is infected, Doctor Anywhere will call an ambulance to transport the individual from their home to Singapore’s National Centre for Infectious Diseases in the next hour for a COVID-19 swab test. For users in Thailand and Vietnam, the local Doctor Anywhere teams will provide assistance to connect them to healthcare authorities to receive further medical attention.

March 28 to April 3 update:

OVO, Tokopedia, and Grab Indonesia donated IDR 1 billion (USD 60,291) each to provide personal protection equipment for medical personnel who are treating patients suffering from COVID-19. The donation has been distributed to the national board for disaster management through a nonprofit foundation called Benih Baik.

The state-owned digital payment platform LinkAja is collaborating with online fundraising platform Kitabisa to raise money for 55,000 sets of personal protection equipment for health workers, including hazmat suits, N95 masks, medical safety goggles, shoe covers, latex gloves, and surgical gloves. The donation will be distributed to five coronavirus referral hospitals in the country.

Grab’s senior leaders will take salary cuts of up to 20% as part of a series of measures to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19 as the pandemic rapidly sweeps across Southeast Asia. The slashes in their pay will be put toward the company’s Partner Relief Initiatives, which provide assistance and support for drivers and merchants across the region. In addition, Grab Indonesia is working with the health ministry and a number of referral hospitals to provide 1,000 GrabCars and 1,000 GrabBikes across the country, specifically for health workers’ commutes. Grab will also provide disinfection stations in some hospitals to sterilize vehicles before and after entering critical areas.

After announcing the launch of a partner support fund, Gojek released 12 drivers welfare programs as part of its utilization. The programs encompass three areas that are likely to affect the millions of drivers using the Gojek platform—healthcare provision, reducing daily costs, and income assistance. The company is providing drivers with hygiene kits and health insurance coverage, distributing baskets of staple foods, vehicle loan payment relief, and income assistance programs for drivers who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or put in mandatory quarantine.

Moreover, Gojek has obtained permission from BNPB (the National Agency for Disaster Countermeasure) and the health ministry to import five million masks. Gojek claimed to be the first on-demand tech company that has obtained an import permit of this type. The masks will be allocated to driver partners and donated to public health workers in COVID-19 referral hospitals.

In the hotel space, Singapore-headquartered RedDoorz launched an initiative called Red Heroes to provide temporary accommodation for frontline healthcare staff and emergency first responders for free during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Red Heroes program is being implemented in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Singapore in partnership with local governments.

India’s Oyo also launched a similar program in Indonesia. The startup has transformed one of its hotels into a temporary residence for medical personnel at no cost. This initiative has also been implemented in India, Malaysia, and the United States. In addition, to ensure the safety and health of employees and guests, Oyo is implementing procedures in accordance with cleaning protocols for COVID-19 at all of their properties.

Digital signature provider PrivyID is opening up its services for free for a month to support business continuity at a time when social distancing is crucial. To access this feature, users can register for an enterprise account at this page. The account can be accessed by up to ten employees, who can use the platform to share and digitally sign internal documents. For external documents, PrivyID provides processing of 100 electronic signatures at no charge.

Healthtech company Indopasifik Teknologi Medika Indonesia (ITMI) launched a digital pharmacy app called Lifepack, aiming to help patients with chronic diseases—such as hypertension, diabetes, and stroke—to obtain medication easily without leaving their homes. For patients who don’t have or lost their prescriptions, they can consult a doctor online through the app. Deliveries are made within four hours after orders are placed. Users can adjust settings in the app based on their prescriptions, and it will remind them to take their medication and when their medicine is about to run out. In addition, users can store their medical records on the app, and in turn use the collated information to monitor their own health.

March 23 to 27 update:

Health tech platform Halodoc teamed up with Gojek to launch Check COVID-19, a free online medical consultation service for Indonesians who may be experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Halodoc also partnered with e-commerce platform Blibli to release the “COVID-19 Check” feature on Blibli’s platform.

Indonesia’s smart city startup Qlue is working together with conversational AI platform Kata.ai, chat software provider Qiscus, and information technology company Volantis to launch Indonesia Bergerak, an interactive site that visualizes public reports and information related to COVID-19. All of this is integrated with other data, such as the number of confirmed cases in each area and the availability of referral hospitals that are near a user. Other than submit numbers and status updates, users can also report crowds that have gathered in public spaces.

AI-powered English learning app Elsa offers its premium features called Elsa Pro for free to support students who have to study independently at home amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Elsa Pro provides more than 1,600 English pronunciation lessons in American English. To access the free feature, users need to sign up on its landing page, fill their personal details, and upload a photo of their student ID.

Gojek’s top executives have stepped up and launched a support fund to help drivers, merchants, and other partners whose incomes have been impacted by the outbreak. Gojek’s co-CEOs Andre Soelistyo and Kevin Aluwi, as well as the senior management team, will donate 25% of their annual salaries over the next 12 months. Contributions will also be drawn from Gojek’s annual salary increase budget and other parties, mainly corporate partners.

The coronavirus has been spreading swiftly in other Southeast Asian countries as well. Malaysia has the highest number of cases, with 2,031 people reportedly infected with the disease as of March 27. Following a two-week lockdown in the country, the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) launched the #DigitalvsCovid campaign, marshalling local tech companies to extend digital solutions to affected domestic businesses and consumers. Some of the companies that are taking part in this campaign are telco firm Digi, last-mile delivery service provider Easy Parcel, and logistics company The Lorry. They will provide services on a pro bono basis or at discounted rates to SMEs during this period.

March 16 to 20 update:

As schools in major cities are closed for 14 days from March 16 onward, education tech platforms—such as Ruangguru, Zenius Education, and Quipper—stepped up by providing free live teaching sessions to help students keep up with their syllabi at home. A number of telco operators and internet providers—like XL Axiata, Telkomsel, Indosat, and Biznet—have promised to keep connections up and running while Indonesians stay home, with some companies offering free services to customers so they can spend more time online.

Coronavirus banner

Health tech platforms Alodokter and Halodoc launched coronavirus risk check features in the form of AI-powered chatbots to provide the public with reliable information about the disease. Users can access these features at no charge.

As demand for health products has skyrocketed, e-commerce platforms such as Tokopedia, Bukalapak, and Shopee have stabilized prices on their platforms to prevent scalping, while JakMall and Blibli limit the purchase of some products such as face masks, hand sanitizer, antiseptic, disinfectant, and staple groceries to prevent stockpiling and ensure that all users will have access to these items.

Meanwhile, two of the region’s major tech companies, Gojek and Grab, have implemented new measures in Indonesia to prevent community transmission between drivers, merchants, and customers.

Grab has introduced contactless delivery for its GrabFood and GrabExpress services to minimize physical contact between persons. Also, the company provides a GrabCare package that covers both financial and medical support for drivers in case they are placed under quarantine by public health authorities or test positive for the virus.

GoFood is adopting a similar approach in their delivery services by adding quick reply options for users in the platform’s chat system to indicate where to leave their items. Gojek also has an income support scheme for drivers diagnosed with COVID-19. It will temporarily suspend installment payments until the driver returns to work. Both companies provide drivers with face masks and hand sanitizer that can be collected at specific offices in Jakarta.

This story will be updated to reflect recent developments.


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