TikTok will suspend its online-retail operation in Indonesia from Wednesday to comply with curbs on social commerce, a big setback for the Chinese-owned startup in one of its fastest-growing markets.
(Bloomberg) — TikTok will suspend its online-retail operation in Indonesia from Wednesday to comply with curbs on social commerce, a big setback for the Chinese-owned startup in one of its fastest-growing markets.
The company will stop facilitating e-commerce transactions on TikTok Shop Indonesia from 5 p.m. Jakarta time on Oct. 4, it said in a statement Tuesday. The company said that its priority is to remain compliant with laws and regulations and that it will coordinate with the Indonesian government for its next steps.
Indonesia last week announced sweeping regulations that will force ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok to split its shopping feature from the popular video-scrolling service in the country, an unprecedented separation that could stall TikTok’s e-commerce thrust just as it was gaining traction against Sea Ltd. and GoTo Group.
The rule — which bars social commerce companies from handling direct payments for online purchases — is part of newly tightened trade regulations aimed at ensuring local e-commerce services, such as GoTo’s Tokopedia, won’t be squeezed out. Indonesia also seeks to keep its 64.2 million micro, small and medium enterprises that contribute 61% of its gross domestic product from getting hurt by social commerce companies.
“We need to be careful with e-commerce,” President Joko Widodo said at a government event on Tuesday. “It can be very good if there are regulations but can turn bad if there aren’t any regulations.”
Indonesia is the first and largest market for TikTok Shop, and online shopping has become the social media app’s fastest-growing feature with a burgeoning fan base in the country. TikTok started the shopping feature in Indonesia in 2021 and its instant success has encouraged it to expand into online retailing in other markets, including the US.
With the new rule, Indonesia is the first among countries in Southeast Asia to push back against TikTok. Navigating this conflict with Indonesia will be pivotal for the company as governments across the world assess how Southeast Asia’s largest nation moves to curb the social media giant’s burgeoning e-commerce presence, just months after the firm said it will invest billions of dollars into the region. TikTok is already facing possible bans and scrutiny in the likes of the US, Europe and India on national security concerns.
–With assistance from Zheping Huang.
(Updates with details on new ruling starting in fourth paragraph.)
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