|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.|
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.