Ant Financial-backed bicycle rental platform Hello Global has said that it is the largest two-wheel transportation app in China with more than 300 million registered users, according to its 2019 annual report released on Monday.

Why it matters: As China’s bike rental boom cools, the relative latecomer to the sector has outrun rivals Mobike and Ofo thanks to its focus on lower-tier cities, business expansion beyond bike rentals, and backing from Alibaba’s fintech arm, Ant Financial.

  • Hello Global ranked first in June 2019 with 21.9 million monthly active users (MAU) on its app and 41.6 million MAU on the Alipay mini program, according to figures from data intelligence platform Quest Mobile. Mobike followed with 13.18 million MAU on app and 35.80 million on Alipay mini program during the same period.
  • China’s top bike rental firms including Hello Global and Mobike are raising bike rental rates in an effort to shift to sustainable business models.

Details: The company operates its bike rental business in 360 domestic cities while its electric bike rental service is available in 260 cities across the country. Hello Global’s carpooling service, which launched in January 2019, operates in more than 300 Chinese cities.

  • Around 70% of the platform’s use base is comprised of the internet-savvy segment born post-1980 and post-1990, though users in other age groups are rising, according to the report. The proportion of users born post-1960 and post-1970 rose to more than 20%, while the post-2000 user segment nears 10%.
  • The company said it has registered a total of 475 patents as of 2019, of which more than 170 are patents for inventions and more than 130 are patents for applications.
  • The firm has created more than 30,000 operation and maintenance positions since its launch, and 15% of this employee segment are between 40 to 50 years old.
  • Also known as Hello Bike and Hello Transtech, the company began using the Hello Global name in 2019 as it expands across the mobility industry, a company spokesman told TechNode.

Context: Launched in 2016, two years after Mobike and Ofo, Hello Global gained traction quickly as the first bike-sharing operator to focus its business within China’s smaller cities.

  • Hello Global, then Hello Bike, merged with Shanghai-listed competitor Youon Bike in October 2017.
  • Ant Financial has participated in four of the company’s seven funding rounds, which have raised a combined total of $1.8 billion.
  • China’s bike rental market was worth RMB 10.8 billion (around $155 million) in 2018, up 73% year on year driven by growth in lower-tier cities and standardization of bike rental services, according to data from research institute Analysys. Sector growth is expected to fall to 33% year on year with market size hitting RMB 14.4 billion in 2019, according to the report.

Emma Lee is Shanghai-based tech writer, covering startups and tech happenings in China and Asia in general. We are looking for stories related to tech and China. Reach her at lixin@technode.com.

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