Ofo, a China-based bicycle sharing platform is planning to enter Indian market by the first half of 2018.
Valued at $2 billion, Didi Chuxing-backed Ofo is eyeing an expansion into Indonesia as well next year. According to the Beijing-based Ofo, the firm has connected more than 8 million bicycles to more than 100 million users across eight countries, including the UK, Singapore, Malaysia and the US, reports ET.
“Ofo is currently doing extensive ground research in India, examining government policies and the permissions required where foreign businesses in the transportation sector are concerned, as well as looking into the infrastructural limitations,” said one of the persons familiar with the development.
“Ofo’s model would need to be tweaked and localised for the Indian market. Over here, civic behaviour is a concern,” said another person aware of the company’s India plans.
Since its inception in 2015, the Chinese bike sharing major has provided over two billion bike rides to more than 100 million users. So far, it connected 6.5 million bikes to riders in 150 cities across five countries. The company recently expanded overseas into the UK, U.S. and Singapore.
The firm has been planning to deploy 20 million bikes and expand their service to 200 cities in 20 countries by the end of 2017.
Ofo’s app allows users to track where its bicycles are parked as well as unlock and lock the two-wheelers. Users pay $1 an hour for the bicycles.
The bike sharing company raised $700 million round led by Alibaba. Prior to that, Ant Financial, Alibaba’s finance-focused affiliate, invested in Ofo in April this year.
Besides Ofo, other bike-sharing startups such as Mobike and Bluegogo also faced the wrath of users in the past. Some media reports surfaced about users throwing bikes in rivers, and damaging them. Despite operational challenges like lack of parking, security among others, bike rental startups are having a ball in China.
According to media reports, out of the 13,615 traffic violations perpetrated by non-motorized vehicles, 3261 involved violations by bicycle riders.
The sharing economy already exists in India and select state government officials realise that through Ofo they can work on addressing congestion issues and act on building larger regional transit systems that are sustainable and are in line with their government’s smart cities plans.