Briefing: Ofo tests in-app store as solution for user refund issue

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ofo悄悄试水折扣商城,也许还能抢救一下? – 36Kr

What happened: Bike-rental firm Ofo is testing an in-app discount store whereby users can convert deposits to virtual coins to buy daily items, including coffee, tissues, and even wine. A RMB 99 deposit can be converted into 150 virtual coins, and a RMB 199 deposit for 300. A bottle of French wine, for instance, priced RMB 160 on another e-commerce platform, costs 85 virtual coins plus RMB 75 in cash on Ofo’s platform. For now, the store is only available for Ofo users who haven’t reclaimed their deposits.

Why it’s important: Such efforts once again highlight Ofo’s cash crunch and its struggles to refund the reportedly millions of users who are still waiting for their deposits back. In November, the company urged its users to transfer their deposits to an online lender PPmoney for deposit-free rides or refunds, prompting broad criticism. Meanwhile, Ofo’s legal troubles continue to pile up, with a Tianjin court recently freezing assets worth RMB 1.45 million (around $220,000). Several court verdicts uploaded on Feb. 20 also indicate that Ofo’s parent company owes two suppliers close to RMB 150 million (around $22 million) as of November.