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December 27, 2016

china based Ofo to launch bike hailing rental service in US and UK

chinese based Ofo bike sharing service to start its US business"
Mobike locates its vehicles via an integrated GPS. Ofo -- so-named because the word looks like a bicycle -- does so by tracking the smartphones of its riders and sending a code to unlock the bike.

If Chinese entrepreneur Dai Wei has his way, Silicon Valley engineers and London college students will soon be able to ride bicycles made by one of the oldest makers in China, with the swipe on their smartphones.The 25-Year-Old chinese who owns $500 Million Startup Ofo is all set to Fuel China Bike-Share Battle and is set to take this overseas.However instead of selling the bicycles, the 25-year-old Dai wants to persuade cyclists to share them through his startup’s “Uber for Bicycles” business model. Dai’s Beijing Bikelock Technology, also known as Ofo, is poised to ship 20,000 China-made bicycles to the United States and Britain after the Christmas holidays to begin the bike riding service.

The cycle-sharing startup, known as Ofo, won about $100 million backing in September from investors including the venture fund backed by Xiaomi Corp. founder Lei Jun and Didi Chuxing, the ride-hailing giant that just beat Uber Technologies Inc. out of China.However Ofo is setting its sights outside China to survive competition with 17 bicycle-sharing apps on the mainland. However the idea of bike sharing is not a new concept.Bicycle-sharing is hardly new. From London’s Boris Bikes to Taipei’s plan to encourage commuters to ditch their motor vehicles, there are about 640 bicycle-sharing systems operating around the world, with more than 640,000 of the two-wheelers in use. It’s a market that may expand by 20 per cent annually to generate as much as US$5.8 billion in sales by 2020, according to a forecast by Roland Berger, a consultancy. 

What makes startups like Ofo and Mobikes stand out is it allows users to hail a bicycle via their smartphones, and return them wherever they want, instead to set locations. The company goes around after peak hours to collect the bicycles, returning them to pickup points for which it used big data analysis as in-demand areas.The company collects 1 yuan per hour for using its bicycles, and is on the verge of breaking even, Dai said. Ofo plans to charge US$1 per hour for the US market.The  business today has spread to 100 campuses all around China, with 32,918 and counting Ofo bicycles in use, and funding to the tune of 9 million yuan. Starting as a campus project for university students, Ofo is now available in 22 Chinese cities with 5 million registered users.

Ofo was established in September 2015 by three Peking University Cycling Association members who just wanted people to ride bicycles anytime and anywhere. Each bike has its own unique license plate number and QR code, as well as a keypad lock. All you have to do is scan the QR code on the bike, then register on the Ofo bicycle WeChat public account (ID: ofobike). From there select the "use bike" option, Input your phone number, wait for the authentication code text message and then enter the bike license plate number. The keypad lock code is given after that, and then you're ready to ride.To better serve overseas users, Ofo said it will soon launch an English-language app. Shanghai Phoenix Bicycle Co., the oldest producer of two-wheelers since 1897 and an Ofo vendor, will also make larger bicycles more suited to Western physique.