Singapore’s bike-sharing wars has produced its first casualty and it is the home-grown startup oBike that will be shuttering operations in the Lion City.
According to an official statement, the startup has cited difficulties meeting regulations set by the Land Transit Authority (LTA), which involved applying for a license to operate by July 7 or face a shutdown.
Directly critiquing the LTA regulations, oBike said the new rules “do not favour” oBike’s goal of providing, “dockless bicycle sharing service that would benefit users’ commuting and Singapore’s transportation system”.
Much of the regulations surround haphazard parking of bikes around the city. The government wants to set up a rule whereby if a bike is not parked in a designated zone, the user will continue to be charged for their use of the bicycle until it is moved.
While this does diminish a core selling point of dock-less bicycles (the convenience of picking up and dropping off whenever and wherever), it also addresses a significant complaint within Singapore. Bikes across the city are commonly dumped in public parks, spread across sidewalks or left in a state of disrepair.
oBike will just shutting down in Singapore and its international operations — which span across Asia, into Australia and much of Europe — will remain open.
oBike users were suggested to either continue to use the service when travelling outside of Singapore or switch to Grab’s bike-sharing product called GrabCycle, which signed a partnership with oBike back in March.
But, this would require moving to a different service provider as GrabCycle will no longer support oBike. In a statement to e27, Grab said,
“As a marketplace app, our promise is to enable customers to find a shared bike or a personal mobility device easily by bringing multiple personal mobility brands into the GrabCycle app. With one less partner, we understand that our customers’ experience will be impacted.”
This means that Grab will be waiving its subscription fees and deposits and provide users with a four-week free trial-period to test how they enjoy the service with a new bike provider. In the statement, Grab affirmed that it will still pursue bike-sharing as a major corporate strategy and will work to grow the marketplace model moving forward.
In Singapore, the core battle for bike-sharing market share had been between the two Chinese companies ofo and MoBike who were battling the Singaporean oBike for market share. Upon closing oBike claimed it had over 1 million users.
ofo, one of the giants of China, has also been showing signs of a cash crunch as it spurned the full-takeover seen by its chief rival MoBike. MoBike was bought by Meituan-Dianping for US$2.7 billion in April.
oBike was launched in January of 2017.
Updated at 3pm on Monday with a statement from Grab.