Chinese bike-sharing giant Ofo launches operations in Bangkok

A staff member from the bike-sharing company Ofo gathers its shared bikes for use during the evening rush hour, in Beijing, China April 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

Beijing-based bike-sharing startup Ofo Inc, which recently secured over $700 million in a series E round led by Alibaba Group, has officially launched its services in Thailand, marking its fifth overseas footprint.

Ofo plans to expand its operation up to 200 cities across 20 countries within this year. The company’s first four overseas markets are Singapore, the United States, Britain and Kazakhstan.

Ofo started a trial run for a month at Thammasat University in the city before its official launch. At present, it aims to place about 6,000 bikes in Bangkok by the end of September and add 5,000 bikes monthly afterwards.

The company will offer a free ride for the first three months and charge 5 baht per half an hour with a deposit of 99 baht later.

“We aim to promote a cycling culture and help improve the traffic situation in Bangkok and other Thai cities in the near future,” Cao Xiao, Head of Ofo’s Asian-Pacific department, said. “By offering Thailand users a customized service, we hope the transport system in major Thailand cities can be improved with our shared bikes in the near future.”

Ofo is not the only major venture-backed bike-sharing company hastening its global expansion plans. Tencent-backed Mobike, the main rival of Ofo, also targets to operate in 200 cities by the end of 2017.

Mobike has just launched its service in London, its fifth overseas market following Singapore, the United Kingdom, Japan and Italy. The world’s largest bike-sharing firm currently operates in more than 150 cities, most of which are in China.

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