[Update: 13 September 2019]
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said it has granted its “in-principle approval for the transfer of Mobike’s licence, with a maximum fleet size of 25,000, to SG Bike”.
This makes SG Bike currently the largest bike-sharing firm in Singapore.
However, the company will not be allowed to hold two licenses at once.
This means SG Bike’s new fleet will be capped at, 25,000—the maximum size taken over from Mobike—rather than adding 25,000 bikes onto their previously existing fleet of 3,000.
The license transfer was scheduled for completion today (13 September), but is now delayed as the two firms work out a few operational details.
SG Bike Marketing Director Benjamin Oh said the app integration is “expected to be completed in the upcoming weeks”.
In the meantime, existing Mobike users can still access the bikes from its original app until the transfer is done.
“SG Bike is working closely with Mobike to complete and test [the] system and user transfer integration,” Oh added.
The homegrown firm, which has been focusing on Yishun, Tampines and East Coast Park, plans to expand into other towns with their updated fleet.
In March this year, Mobike was hoping to bow out of Singapore graciously.
The firm put in an application to the LTA to surrender their bike-sharing license, and LTA was assessing their request.
Perhaps they realised, like their fellow competitors from the first bike-sharing wave, they had bitten off more than they could chew and weren’t making money.
No one needs to be reminded of how ofo’s license got cancelled for repeatedly missing their deadlines to remove bicycles, or how oBike’s messy exit has left behind millions in debt.
For five months since Mobike’s request to stop operating in Singapore, we haven’t heard news about the outcome.
But today, local company SG Bikes has announced they’re planning to take over Mobike’s operating license and bicycle fleet, if LTA lets them.
Tech In Asia reported that the two companies have come to an agreement, in which Mobike will transfer its existing operator’s license, security deposit, 18,000 bicycles currently deployed and another 7,000 stored in warehouses, to SG Bikes.
This will give SG Bikes—which currently has a fleet of 3,000 in Singapore—the right to deploy 25,000 more bicycles, and possibly become the largest provider in the country.
SG Bike’s majority shareholder ISOTeam will pay Mobike US$1.85 million in the deal.
Upon LTA’s approval, the SG Bike app will be able to let users unlock and ride both SG Bike and Mobike-branded bicycles.
People who previously used Mobike will be able to transfer their remaining unused credits or ride passes to be used in SG Bike’s app.
Their existing user deposits will also be converted into SG Bike credits following the deal, or they can choose to opt-out of this and (finally) get a refund.
With the increased fleet, SG Bike Chief Operating Officer Sean Tay said the firm looks forward to serving more areas in Singapore with “strategically deployed” bicycles, and rolling out more promotions users can enjoy.
Can SG Bike Handle It?
In all our Singaporean cynicism, many will probably raise an eyebrow and brace themselves for the same issues to resurface, just under a different name.
But taking a look at SG Bike’s track record, could they be better prepared to handle a large fleet?
Unlike the pioneering Chinese bike-sharing firms that went all out, SG Bike never took an aggressive approach when they launched, in part because they were a small company.
One thing they’ve got going for them is that they’ve been law-abiding even before LTA started coming down hard on errant bike-sharing users.
SG Bike was the first firm to implement geo-station parking, which LTA has eventually made a requirement for all bike-sharing companies and their users.
After the mass exodus of the early entrants, SG Bike was one of few companies left with an operating license from LTA, under which they have had to maintain proper use and keep their fleet within the approved size—and they seem to have been complying well so far.
Featured Image Credit: Mobike / SG Bike