Workers arrange newly manufactured mobikes in Hengyang, Hunan province. (Photo/China Daily)
Mobike expands links with WeChat in bold cooperation move
Beijing Mobike Technology Co Ltd on Wednesday announced it is expanding its business links with WeChat, China's largest social networking platform, in a move that will allow the bike-sharing startup to access the latter's huge user base.
As part of efforts to outshine its rival ofo Inc, Mobike said users don't have to download its app to enjoy bike-sharing services. Instead, WeChat will also give its users quick access to Mobike services in its WeChat Wallet function.
Although it is labeled an option for "limited time", there is no indication of when it will expire. Currently, WeChat has about 889 million monthly active users.
The move comes shortly after Tencent Holdings Ltd, the owner of WeChat, doubled down its investment in Mobike.
Hu Weiwei, founder and president of Mobike, said: "Enabled by our smart locks and intelligent positioning technology, we have built the world's largest internet of things network to connect people with bicycles."
Founded in 2014, Mobike's services are available in more than 30 cities. It has around 1 million internet-connected bikes and has handled about 500 million bike-sharing trips.
Li Zhaohui, investment manager at Tencent, said it is easy to manufacture bikes and put them in cities. The real challenge lies in how to track and manage them.
"The partnership will also help WeChat connect people with more offline services," Li said.
Ofo, Mobike's archrival, is reportedly in discussions with its investor Didi Chuxing, China's largest ride-sharing company, to make its service available on the latter's mobile app.
Ofo did not respond to requests for comment.
Zhang Xu, an analyst at Beijing-based consultancy Analysys, said partnering with WeChat will undoubtedly attract more people to try Mobike and increase its brand value.
"Also, the move underlines that Tencent attaches high importance to its ties with Mobike, because the opportunity to access WeChat's huge user base is only reserved for companies that Tencent CEO Pony Ma deems as highly promising," Zhang said.