India’s 2018 gold demand to remain below 10-year average

India is the world’s second-biggest gold consumer. (Reuters)
Updated 06 February 2018
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India’s 2018 gold demand to remain below 10-year average

MUMBAI: Gold demand in India is likely to remain below its 10-year average for a third year in 2018 as higher taxes and new transparency rules on purchases may cap last year’s rebound in buying, the World Gold Council (WGC) said on Tuesday.
India is the world’s second-biggest gold consumer and lower demand there could rein in global prices that have risen 8 percent since mid-December, although a drop in imports of the metal would help India reduce its trade deficit.
Gold consumption in 2018 will likely be between 700 and 800 tons versus 727 tons last year, Somasundaram PR, the managing director of WGC’s Indian operations, said on Tuesday. Indian demand has averaged 840 tons over the last 10 years.
Gold demand will lag because of a higher goods and services tax (GST) on bullion purchases imposed in 2017 and measures to track gold purchases, he said.
In July, the GST on gold was raised to 3 percent from 1.2 percent. India has also made it mandatory for customers to disclose their tax code, or Permanent Account Number, for high-value gold purchases.
The government moves have disrupted the business of the small jewelers that account for nearly two-thirds of India’s total sales, Somasundaram said.
“More changes are coming in like hallmarking, responsible gold sourcing, all this will continue to disrupt the industry ... It will take two years for India to reach normal demand level,” he said.
Gold is a mainstay of Indian culture, serving as the primary vehicle for household savings for hundreds of millions of people in Asia’s third-largest economy.
Gold demand in the country rose 9 percent in 2017 from 2016 to 726.9 tons as jewelry demand increased 12 percent from a year ago, the WGC said in a report published on Tuesday.
India’s imports of gold ore jumped 73 percent in 2017 from the year before to a record 245.7 tons as the import tax on the semi-pure alloy made by miners is 0.65-percent lower than on refined gold, Somasundaram said.
Dore imports will remain robust even in 2018 due to the duty difference and huge installed refining capacity of 1,450 tons, he said.
Gold smuggling in India has surged since India raised its import duty to 10 percent in August, 2013 in an effort to narrow a gaping current account deficit.
Smugglers brought around 120 tons of gold into the country in 2017, with nearly the same amount expected in 2018 unless the government reduces the import tax, Somasundaram said.


Indonesia’s Go-Jek close to profits in all segments

Updated 18 August 2018
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Indonesia’s Go-Jek close to profits in all segments

  • Go-Jek is Indonesia's first billio-dollar startup
  • Ride haling app evolves into online payment platform

JAKARTA: Go-Jek, Indonesia’s first billion-dollar startup, is “extremely close” to achieving profitability in all its segments, except transportation, its founder and CEO Nadiem Makarim told Reuters.

Launched in 2011 in Jakarta, Go-Jek — a play on the local word for motorbike taxis — has evolved from a ride-hailing service to a one-stop app allowing clients in Southeast Asia’s largest economy to make online payments and order everything from food, groceries to massages.

“We’re seeing enormous online to offline traction for all of our businesses and are close to being profitable, outside of transportation,” said the 34-year old CEO.
The startup is expected to be fully profitable “probably” within the next few years, Makarim added.

Already a market leader in Indonesia, where it processes more than 100 million transactions for its 20-25 million monthly users, Go-Jek is now looking to expand in Southeast Asia.

Ride hailing services in Southeast Asia are expected to surge to $20.1 billion in gross merchandise value by 2025 from $5.1 billion in 2017, according to a Google-Temasek report.

Go-Jek said in May it would invest $500 million to enter Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines, after Uber struck a deal to sell its Southeast Asian operations to Grab — the bigger player in the region.

Go-Jek is seeing strong funding interest from its backers as it targets an aggressive expansion, Makarim said.

“Since its Aug. 1 launch, the app has already grabbed 15 percent of market share in Ho Chi Minh,” Makarim said. The firm this week opened recruitment for motorcycle drivers in Thailand.

The startup expects anti-monopoly concerns swirling around the Grab-Uber deal, which Singapore said had substantially hurt competition, to help clear a path for its expansion.

“We’re bringing back choice. The Singapore government is particularly eager to bring back competition,” Makarim said, adding that the order of overseas rollouts had not been set.

Go-Jek’s offshore push comes at a time when Singapore-based Grab is stepping up funding to expand in Indonesia and transform itself into a consumer technology company, starting with a partnership with online grocer HappyFresh.

“Mimicking Go-Jek’s strategy is the highest form of flattery,” laughed Makarim.

Grab told Reuters in a statement, “The super app strategy has been around for a while now and no Southeast Asian player can claim to have pioneered it.” The company also said Grab has not lost market share in Ho Chi Minh since August, but declined to provide market share data.

Makarim believes Go-Jek’s understanding of food merchants will give it an edge over Grab, which counts investors such as Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing and Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp. among its backers.

Makarim, who sees food delivery as Go-Jek’s core business, said he was not concerned about funding, without giving details.

Go-Jek was reported in June as being in talks to raise $1.5 billion in a new funding round and was valued at about $5 billion in a prior fundraising, sources have told Reuters. The firm had said in March it was considering a domestic IPO.

Makarim noted Go-Jek’s backers were sharing both capital and expertise. The company is collaborating with Alphabet Inc’s Google on platform mobility, Tencent on payments strategy, JD.com on logistics operations, and Meituan Dianping on merchant transactions and deliveries.

Go-Jek has set up a venture capital arm, Go-Ventures, to invest in startups in Southeast Asia “with strategic importance to our business,” the CEO said.