China’s bike wars are set to go international as the country’s leading bike sharing apps prepare to launch into new markets.
China’s biggest bike-sharing startups Ofo and its rival Mobike have revealed plans to expand their booming cycle empires into overseas markets this year.
Speaking to Bloomberg Television, Ofo co-founder Zhang Siding said the company plans to launch in 20 different countries in 2017. It will also launch in 200 cities across China.
Siding said the company would leverage its strategic partnership with Ant Financial, the financial services arm of Alibaba Group, to facilitate the company’s overseas expansion.
It follows a recent announcement from Mobike that it plans to expand its business into 100 cities globally before the end of the year. Mobike has already launched its services in Singapore last month.
Bike-sharing is booming in China with Mobike’s bright orange coloured bicycles and Ofo’s bright yellow bicycles lining the streets of Shanghai and Beijing.
The bikes operate via GPS enabled smartphone apps which enable users to find and pay for a bike and leave them wherever they want.
Mobike and Ofo are the largest brands in a growing group of bike sharing businesses, which has seen the sidewalks of Chinese cities flooded with bicycles. The explosive growth of the market has seen companies drop prices to 1RMB for a day or even offer free rides in a bid to sign up users.
Despite this, the businesses have attracted strong investment from influential companies. Mobike received backing from Tencent Holdings, FoxConn Technology Group and TPG Capital, among a host of others. While Ofo raised money from Didi Chuxing, Citic Private Equity and Matrix Partners.