THE INC. LIFE

Singapore’s oBike Hits Critical Mass of 2 Million Users

And it has just expanded in Phuket, Thailand’s biggest island

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BY Ezra Ferraz - 28 Sep 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

After raising a $45 million Series B round earlier this year, Singaporean bike-sharing company oBike has seem to put the capital to good use: The company can now claim 2 million users across its home country, Malaysia, and Thailand. oBike is active in a total of ten markets, including some well beyond its Southeast Asia base, such as the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Netherlands.

To avail of a bike through oBike, users must download the app, register, and search for the bikes nearby, which are tracked via Bluetooth technology rather than GPS. Users then pay a deposit to reserve their bike and scan the QR code on its handle or its rear to unlock it for use.

To encourage people to use oBike regularly, the platform records the distance you traveled, along with the calories you burned and even how far you reduced your carbon footprint. These nudges are designed to help users move toward oBike’s vision of “car-lite” societies.

That more than 2 million users have bought into this vision shows the Singaporean company has touched a nerve in the bike-sharing space.

"We are heartened by the support from our users. It is indeed not an easy feat achieving two million users in Southeast Asia, but we have managed to accomplish this within a remarkable time frame," says Edward Chen, co-founder and chief marketing officer of oBike, which was founded only in January of this year.

oBike is also earning tremendous support in the markets it’s becoming active in. oBike just expanded in Phuket, Thailand’s biggest island, in a move that was celebrated with a memorandum of understanding ceremony with none other than the governor of Phuket, Norraphat Plodthong. From a product standpoint, this launch would be oBike’s first global deployment of bikes with three gears.

The governor believes welcoming the Singaporean oBike will have a tangible impact on the island’s central planning.

"The launch of oBike supports our move towards transforming Phuket into a smart city as part of the Thailand 4.0 economic model development. With commuter data, we will be able to make better informed planning of our island's transport infrastructure to improve mobility on our island,” he says.

In another initiative that illustrates oBike’s commitment to the Thai market, oBike is giving students at Thammasat University in Bangkok free rides with no deposit free from September 18, 2017 to October 31, 2017 from its pool of 200 bikes at the university.

With these milestones, Chen believes the company is on track to reach its target number of markets.

"We aim to leverage the power of technology and transform the way people commute. I'm pleased to share that we are on track to realizing our vision of revolutionizing transport systems in 80 cities by the end of 2017, with our recent entry into Hong Kong and today's launch in Phuket and Thammasat University," he says.