Chinese dockless bike sharing unicorn Mobike which entered the Indian market in May, is hoping to make it big in the country. With its Chinese rival Ofo out of the market in India, Mobike wants to steal the opportunity. The company, launched in 2016, today, boasts its presence in 200 cities across 18 countries globally. It raised a total funding of USD 928 million before it was acquired by Chinese trading platform Meituan-Dianping for USD 2.7 billion in April this year. There are over nine million bicycles on Mobike's platform, offering 30 million rides every day. The giant made its debut in India in the western city of Pune. In an exclusive conversation with Meeta Ramnani of The Passage, Mobike India CEO Vibhor Jain shared his company's expansion plans in the country and informed that unlike its rival which quit the Indian shores barely six months after arriving here, they are here to stay.
Here are the edited excerpts:
MR: How does Mobike see the market potential in India?
VJ: By coming here, we are expanding our landscape and growth of urban mobility. As far as last mile connectivity and short distance conveyance is concerned, we see a huge potential in India.
MR: With Ofo’s exit, what is the market share that you are targeting after a year or two?
VJ: India is at a very nascent stage as far as bike sharing is concerned. All bike sharing companies here are very new and everyone is expanding. It is too early to speak about the market share. There are less overlaps as there are some operators operating mostly in one or two cities.
MR: India has a lot of infrastructural issues for cyclists. On an average we see 3,000 cyclists die every year. So how do you plan to work around that?
VJ: This issue has to be dealt on two levels. One is infrastructure and other is safety features in cycles. For infrastructure, improvement is surely required here and Mobike is actively working with the local municipal corporations for the same. We have currently signed an MoU with Pune Municipal Corporation to build a cycling infrastructure. As far as the cycles are concerned, they are specifically made for sharing. They have an aluminum body and the cycles have disc brakes. For (added) safety there are front and rear lights and the speed of cycles cannot exceed a specific limit.
MR: The biggest problem that the bike-sharing platforms face in many countries is the parking crisis. How will you address this?
VJ: For parking, we are speaking to local administration where the municipal corporation identifies parking spaces at designated locations. In our application too, all the locations are listed and visible. We have also identified no parking zones and listed them on the app. We also work on user education to inform the user about the same. Even after all this, there is an on-ground operations team that works 24x7 and any bikes that are obstructing traffic are removed.
MR: What different are you offering to Indians, compared to your global customers?
VJ: We want every customer to get global experience of Mobike. So, the bike is the same across the 18 countries Mobike is present in. Also, the app is the global app so that a person can use the bike in any of these countries. Expect for the local requirement as mentioned before, there is no change in the bike. Other change is, we follow localized pricing.
MR: How many cycles are you planning here and in which cities?
VJ: Currently we are in Pune with 2,000 bikes. We plan to go slow and expand to 10 cities in the country in the near future. These will be a mix of tier I and II cities as we see a great potential in tier II cities too.
MR: What is the revenue model that you will follow here?
VJ: We are following the pay-as-you-go model in Pune with Rs 10 for a ride. We also are giving out a monthly pass. It’s too early to say of the profits yet as it’s been only 8 weeks since we are operational. On our app we accept over 8-10 wallets and cards of over 15-20 banks.
MR: Where are the cycles coming from?
VJ: Currently, we are still in the phase of setting up operations here, so we are importing cycles from the parent company. But we definitely want local partnerships in the long term.
MR: How will you address the bike theft issue?
VJ: One important factor is technology. The bikes have smart locks which are centrally monitored. We also have an on-ground operations team in place. Also, Pune has come forward to report any tampered lock or any damaged bike. As the word spreads people start acting more responsible and now we are seeing hardly any theft.
MR: What lessons will Mobike bring in from China, as the China bike-sharing market is facing issues?
VJ: We are a responsible company and we are into a formal undertaking with local administration. The biggest learning is that we will work with local administration and in a formal arrangement and comply with the rules for sustainable mobility. We are using technology and educating the citizens to ensure operations.