A Vietnamese social media app called Gapo launched on Tuesday in the country, following officials’ call for local tech firms to build made-in-Vietnam social networks and search engines to challenge the dominance of Facebook and Google.
Currently only available on the Google and Apple app stores, Gapo is the product of a local tech company called G-Group, which in the past successfully launched lending platform Tima.
The social media app was developed in only three months by G-Group, which received an investment of VND 500 billion (USD 21.5 million) from its venture subsidiary G-Capital.
Speaking at the launch event, Gapo CEO and co-founder Ha Trung Kien said that Vietnamese users had limited options for social media networks, and that Gapo was built to meet local demands as a safer choice with better customer services. Kien added that Gapo was not created to compete with Facebook, but aims to give users another option in social networking.
Duong Vi Khoa, Gapo’s director of strategy, said that despite having functions similar to Facebook, Gapo would set itself apart by having “on-the-ground customer services” for local users.
According to Khoa, Gapo’s users will be able to authenticate their accounts by providing identification documents, in turn preventing their accounts from being stolen or hacked. In the future, authenticated users, not just the online influencers, may also earn income for their viral content. He said Gapo aims to have 3 million users by the end of 2019 and 50 million users by 2021.
Gapo’s news feed, which is very similar to that of Facebook, currently includes content from random users on the app. The system crashed on Tuesday night, on the same day it debuted.
Facebook is still the most popular social network in Vietnam, accounting for nearly half of all social media usage.