Mobike joins ofo in Singapore with official launch

Months after dropping a hint for taking its services to overseas market, China’s top bike-rental startup Mobike announced today the launch of its hugely popular bike-sharing service in Singapore, the first stop of Mobike’s global expansion.

Mobike’s operation in Singapore features its typical scan-and-go service. Singapore residents can now ride a Mobike by downloading the Mobike app and unlocking any Mobike near them by scanning a QR code on the bike.

To soft landing the service in the island state, Mobikes will initially be deployed at selected high demand areas around the city such as MRT stations, industrial parks, and universities such as National University of Singapore, Singapore Management University, and Republic Polytechnic, according to the company.

Despite (or because of) their huge popularity, Chinese bike-rental companies have had a tricky time with local municipalities for the management problems caused by their sprawling growth. In its global expansion, Mobike has been very cautious about complying with the local regulations.

“Mobike plans to work closely with a number of partners in Singapore to identify ‘Mobike Preferred Locations’, areas of high convenience around the city where users can start and end their cycling trip, in addition to existing authorized bicycle parking zones. The company will also work with its partners on activities to educate users on good cycling habits, and where to park bikes,” the firm emphasized in an official statement.

“We are determined to commit time up-front to really understand how each city operates and how Mobike can help. Singapore’s government has been very proactive to support cycling as a viable last-mile transport solution, from the “Walk, Cycle, Ride” scheme to the Park Connector Network. We are confident that Mobike can play a key role in achieving Singapore’s vision of a truly integrated and environmentally friendly transport system with cycling at its core, and we are excited to get started.” — Davis Wang, co-founder and CEO of Mobike

Singapore has got a whole lot of pedal power recently thanks to its friendly public cycling infrastructure. Ofo, Mobike’s arch-competitor in China, also entered the market earlier. But for Mobike, there’s another reason for it to select Singapore as the first overseas market: Singapore-based Temasek is among the few overseas venture capitalists that have a stake in the bike-rental company.

Mobike, which now operates across 33 in China, has entered a land grab battle with local competitor ofo. Now the competition is expanding overseas. Till now, ofo, which now operates in Singapore, U.S and U.K., seem to have one leg up ahead in the global market. However, it is still too early to say that. In Mobike’s defense, this may just another evidence to their different entrepreneurial style.

Going global as appealing as it sounds isn’t easy especially when you have to address different user habits, regulations, a group of established similar projects, like Citi Bike, as well as a rising number of peer startups looking at the global market, such as Bluegogo and LimeBike.

TechNode has reached out to Mobike and ofo for additional comment on their globalization strategies but has not heard back.