Bike-sharing firms gear up for a car-lite SG
Whilst the bike-sharing trend has already been booming in other markets such as China, it was only this year when three major bike-sharing platforms decided to commence their operations in Singapore, in support of the government’s push for a car-lite society. Beijing-based Ofo and Mobike, as well as the homegrown obike, are the biggest firms to offer stationless bike-sharing models.
In July, Ofo managed to raise the largest investment in an app-based bike-sharing firm, recording more than US$700M in its latest Series E funding round led by Alibaba, Hony Capital, and CITIC Private Equity, resulting in an estimated valuation of about US$2B. “We are very fortunate to be part of the global sharing economy and investors have exhibited a lot of confidence in our business model,” Ofo said.
This funding feat trumped Mobike’s US$600M Series E funding, with investors including Singapore-owned Temasek, Warburg Pincus, Tencent, and Sequoia.
Ofo and Mobike each have over 100 million users globally, with the latter recording 25 million rides daily in 150 cities. Meanwhile, obike has attracted Grishin Robotics and has secured US$45M in its Series B funding round in August. Since March, it achieved 500,000 signups.
Challenges and bike-sharing’s future
Since these firms utilise dockless systems, one recurring problem that operators face are errant riders. In July, LTA’S Active Mobility Enforcement Officers impounded 70 dockless bicycles that were parked indiscriminately.
To counter and discipline errant drivers, credit systems were put in place where users will gain and lose points depending on their behaviour. Once the credit score falls below 80, the user will be charged $100 per 30 mins. Ofo also said it has segmented their operations into districts based on population density and it has deployed on-the-ground operations crew in each district to locate indiscriminately-parked bikes. For obike, the use of the latest Bluetooth technology helps track the location of their bikes accurately, reducing the time the maintenance team spends in finding and redeploying bikes.
These bike sharing firms are a part of the bigger sharing economy model that is taking off globally. PWC said this model has all it takes to grow from US$15B to US$335B by 2025. For Mobike, it stated that it is actively developing its artificial intelligence platform that can integrate and analyse hundreds of variables including weather, time of day, location, crowd patterns, and supply and demand trends.
Ofo and Mobike each have over 100 million users globally, with the latter recording 25 million rides daily in 150 cities.
Ofo plans to establish over 100 preferred parking zones and release more than 10,000 bicycles by end-2017
Mobike records 25 million rides daily