Amid rumors of ofo’s acquisition by Didi Chuxing, users are encountering errors when attempting to rent the former’s bicycles through the ride-hailing giant’s app.

According to the local media, an error is displayed within the app when scanning an ofo bicycle’s QR code. The message says that the problem has been partially repaired, but Didi cannot resolve it entirely without ofo. TechNode verified the inability to access the company’s bicycles and found it to be true.

An error is displayed when attempting to rent ofo bicycles in Beijing within Didi’s app (Image Credit: TechNode)

Didi told TechNode that ofo’s service is still available through its app, though some users are encountering errors when trying to access ofo’s bicyles. “The company is working with the relevant parties to solve the issues at the soonest to ensure all the users can enjoy our services,” a Didi spokesperson said, without specifying the cause of the difficulties.

The lack of access to ofo bicycles on Didi’s platform comes at a curious time. Didi is rumored to be closing a deal to acquire the bike rental company, with the two parties still negotiating a price. ofo is said to be valued at around $1.5 billion—almost half the price of Mobike.

Nonetheless, both companies have repeatedly denied the planned acquisition. Yesterday (July 30), ofo released a statement reiterating its stance on the news of its sale.
“As a top and the only major independent bike-rental company, ofo pioneered the growth of the bike-rental industry. We will continue to serve the users and contribute our efforts to solve traffic congestion and air pollution problems in cities,” the company said.
However, ofo has been retreating from a significant number of international markets, raising questions about its cash situation. The company says its scale backs and exits from Germany, the US, parts of the UK, the Middle East, Spain, India, and Australia are part of a new focus on “priority markets” that will help the company reach profitability.
The company responded to reports of its cash crunch by calling them “smear campaigns” and sending lawyers letters to the media companies involved. ofo said the reports amounted to defamation and malicious slander. In addition, Yu Xin, the company’s co-founder, and CEO denied claims that it was in the process laying off 50% of its staff.
In an attempt to boost profit, the company began selling advertising on its bicycles and within its app in May. However, this was later blocked by numerous local governments around China. In addition, rival bike rental firm Mobike has done away with deposits for all users in China, creating a greater incentive for use.
Updated August 2, 2018, 14:45: Included a response from Didi 

Christopher Udemans is TechNode's former Shanghai-based data and graphics reporter. He covered Chinese artificial intelligence, mobility, cleantech, and cybersecurity.

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