After years of bike sharing services where cities had the hands on the way bikes were used by imposing stations to pick up and leave them, a new business model appears where there is no station anymore. Is it really a good thing?
New players for bike sharing are in town: Ofo, Mobike, and Obike are the three main players of the market. Ofo has just raised $700 Mn series E after a $450 Mn series D last February. Mobike has just raised $600 Mn to expand its business outside China. The Singapore-born oBike has about 500,000 registrations and a few thousand bicycles.
Ofo and Mobike have big expansion plans. Mobike announced last June its plans to expand to reach 200 cities before the end of the year, many of which are expected to be outside of China. They even want to open up to services, such as point-to-point deliveries and other logistics. So many players in the market can help customers. More bikes, cheaper fares, less polluted cities. However, such a business model where bikes should be parked "freely" in official spaces, does not resist to the fact that if customers are not incentivized to park bikes the right way, they will leave them anywhere. There exists a penalty system that practically, does not work. Cities are invaded by bikes, making places difficult to walk or clean. At an era of smart cities, balance between all stakeholders is needed.
How long will cities leave their pavements to all the startups coming with this new bike sharing business model? This is the question. For now, such startups are not target as Uber is. Will it stay this way much longer?