China’s leading bike-sharing startup ofo is coming up with a new solution to unlock their bikes—near-field Communication (NFC) locks. Ofo announced today that their new NFC-enabled locks have been put into mass production (in Chinese) and will be placed on the streets most likely in October.
With the first electronic locks that support NFC, users can pay for and unlock a bicycle within seconds simply by bringing their smartphones near the bikes. This means that ofo riders will no longer have to solely rely on QR codes which are insecure and easy targets for scammers.
Wireless NFC technology has been widely implemented in China. Just last week, Beijing Metro announced that all Beijing subway lines are supporting NFC-enabled mobile phones. Passengers no longer need to purchase transport cards or tickets but can simply swipe their phones to enter the station.
Near-field communication (NFC) is a set of communication protocols that allow two electronic devices—one of which is usually a mobile device—to establish communication by bringing them within about 4 centimeters of each other.
The bike-rental startup’s new smart locks are expected to lower friction by reducing the number of steps and actions from users. NFC-powered locks allow riders to get access to the bikes simply by bringing the phones close to the locks, skipping that little bit of the hassle.
Apple users, however, will have to wait. Just as with the Beijing metro, iPhone users will have to stick with the QR code scans to unlock bikes for the time.
So far, ofo has placed over 8 million bikes in eight countries, and has over 25 million daily orders, according to local media.