Chinese bike-sharing startup, Tencent-backed Mobike, is exploring opportunities to introduce its bike-sharing services in Singapore, where the country is being gradually pushed into becoming a cycling-friendly city with a growing network of well-connected cycling paths.
Aiming to facilitate an eco-friendly and sustainable mode of transportation, Mobike is utilising technology and purpose-built bicycles to complement the public transport network, improving commuters’ accessibility and point-to-point options in their first & last mile travel, the company said.
Established in Beijing in January 2015, since inception its operations have rapidly expanded in and to Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. Amongst the investors in the bike-sharing service are Tencent. It was reported by Seeking Alpha in mid-October that Tencent had secured a $3.5 billion loan to help pay for its acquisition of a controlling stake in Finnish game studio Supercell and its investment in Mobike.
This investment represents Tencent’s relatively selective investment strategy which targets enterprises related to entertainment and socializing and could see its integration into WeChat.
Singapore is the first overseas market identified by Mobike, and according to the company, its expansion to the city-state underscores Mobike’s strategic business decision and growth strategy campaign aimed at creating greener urban environments.
Being a vertically integrated technology company, Mobike is involved from the design of the bike and the development of the mobile app to the bicycle sharing operations, including fleet maintenance & customer service.
Mobike claims that this operating model creates a complete value-chain involvement that has enabled it to gain strong traction in cities where it operates.
Mobikes’ bicycles are equipped with GPS tracking and a specially-designed locking system that can unlock Mobike with its mobile app. It also uses real-time monitoring of its fleet and it can enable one operator to manage 50 times more bikes than conventional bike-sharing models.
With Singapore’ government in recent years initiating a National Cycling Plan to create a cyclist-friendly, well-connected network to provide safe and healthy cycling for all, the city-state aims to have 360 km of park connectors by 2020, forming part of a 700 km long extensive network of walking and cycling paths.
Accordingly to plans announced by the Land Transport Authority of Singapore, there will be another 90 km of cycling paths added to more towns by 2020. The aim is to provide all 26 HDB towns across Singapore with comprehensive intra-town cycling networks for residents to cycle to and from MRT stations and neighbourhood centres.
Given its growing inter-connectivity of urban areas, cycling can be an alternative mode of transport for short distance commutes in Singapore. Together with Singapore’s established transportation network, conducive regulatory and business environment, the country would be an ideal ecosystem for Mobike to innovate, look at new pilot schemes and start a presence outside of China for its unique bike-sharing services.
Speaking on the development, Florian Bohnert, General Manager (Singapore) of Mobike, said: “Mobike’s remarkable growth and the widespread adoption of our bike-sharing services in major Chinese cities is a proof-of-concept to our technology and operating model. Our goal is to empower commuters with new alternatives in their last mile travel – to improve their mobility and commute more efficiently.”
And at the same time, Mobike can help shape healthier lifestyles, reduced traffic congestion and pollution in the communities that we serve. Singapore, with its pre-existing plans to promote cycling and create a greener urban environment, is an interesting market, and we look forward to exploring opportunities, so we can innovate rapidly and deliver on our vision,” Bohnert added.