Moka POS builds mobile point-of-sale (POS) technology for small and medium businesses in Indonesia. You can find Moka payment terminals in many boutiques and restaurants around the country.
As a startup founded in 2014, Moka is one of the early birds in Indonesia’s fintech scene and it has raised close to USD 40 million so far from investors that include the prolific early-stage investor East Ventures and “unicorn maker” Sequoia Capital. Other investors in the startup’s early rounds include Convergence Ventures, Fenox VC, Northstar Group, Wavemaker Partners, Mandiri Capital, EDBI, and SoftBank Ventures Korea.
Now it looks like Moka is going to merge into a much larger company. Several sources with knowledge of the deal have indicated that Indonesia’s most valuable tech company, Gojek, is acquiring Moka.
Moka however insists that this is only a rumor. “We do not comment on market speculation,” a spokesperson told KrASIA.
The firm points out that it is indeed partnering with Gojek’s wallet Go-Pay in its payment ecosystem, which means Moka’s partners can accept Go-Pay as a form of cashless payment. Moka has been an independent platform so far and 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), as well as other mobile wallets like Dana and LinkAja. In addition, Moka POS accepts the credit card-like cashless payments solutions offered by Kredivo and Akulaku.
In response to our request for comment on the acquisition, Gojek also told KrASIA that it does not “comment on rumors and speculation.”
It’s always possible that a deal falls through even if it’s at an advanced stage, but completing the acquisition of Moka would fit 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, three well-established payments companies in Indonesia that each cater to a different segment.
Moka, with is close ties to offline SME merchants would be another piece in the puzzle. Helping promote the use of Go-Pay for purchases made offline is just one of the upsides it brings. In a recent interview, Moka’s CTO Grady Laksmono told KrASIA that the company has 18,000 merchants in 200 cities in Indonesia across 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 in Indonesia with potentially billions of dollars in investments.
Lastly, getting acquired by a larger company is one way startups can deliver returns to their shareholders. Many startups share investor DNA. Moka and Gojek, for instance, are both part of Sequoia India’s portfolio. In a maturing market such as Indonesia, where exit opportunities through big IPOs could still be years away, ‘exit to unicorn’ has become a popular outcome.
Not only payments companies–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 IDX-listed Indonesian tech firm Diva.