China’s ofo partners SoftBank to launch bike sharing services in Japan

SoftBank Commerce & Service Corp (C&S) and China’s bike-sharing provider ofo have announced a collaboration to bring the latter’s services to Japan. The two firms plan to initially launch bike-sharing services in Tokyo and Osaka in September 2017.

SoftBank C&S, part of Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp, and ofo have entered into an exclusive partnership where the former will serve as strategic partner to the latter in Japan.

“Launching in Japan is a huge milestone for ofo. In a country where there is a strong cycling culture, we strive to further improve the convenience and cost-effectiveness that cycling can bring to people in Japan,” said Lawrence Cao, head of ofo’s APAC business.

“Leveraging our business engaged in the sale, distribution and manufacturing of ICT products, we aim to promote ofo’s bike-sharing business model and reinvent personal mobility in Japan,” said Tetsuo Kuramitsu, Board Director of SoftBank C&S.

In July, Reuters reported that ofo is in talks to raise $1 billion in a new funding round led by SoftBank Group in what would be the largest fund-raising in the nation’s bike-sharing business. The Chinese firm had earlier raised more than $700 million from investors led by Alibaba Group.

This August, ofo officially launched its services in Thailand, its fifth overseas market. The bike-sharing firm plans to expand its operation up to 200 cities across 20 countries within this year.

ofo’s biggest rival, Tencent-backed Mobike, has similar expansion plans as it seeks to extend coverage to 200 cities by the end of 2017.

Mobike, which claims to be the largest smart bike-sharing company globally, had in June announced raising over $600 million in a new round of financing led by Tencent. The Series E round reportedly valued the company at more than $3 billion.

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