Hellobike(哈罗单车), the third-largest bike-sharing operator rolled out its own taxi-hailing service earlier this month. It is known as Hello Chuxing (哈啰出行). With the support of its largest shareholder, Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial, the company is looking to challenge the dominance of Didi Chuxing(滴滴出行) in China’s taxi market.
According to tech media tech.163.com, Hellobike, which currently operates its bike-sharing service in about 300 cities, posted profits in over 100 cities, mainly in second tier cities and beyond. Now the dark horse is focusing on the taxi-hailing market.
Earlier this year, Hellobike applied for a series of brand names containing “Haluo” (哈啰), such as Haluo Moped, Haluo Car, etc. revealing its ambition to branch out.
In September, it replaced the Chinese name “Haluo Danche (bike)” with “Haluo Chuxing (Trip)” formally. In cooperation with both ride-sharing platforms—Shouqi Limousine & Chauffeur and Dida Chuxing, and digital mapping supplier Amap, now it launched online taxi-hailing service in 81 cities including Shanghai, Wuhan and Nanjing.
At the moment, the hegemon Didi Chuxing, is scorched by security problems exposed by successive carpooling scandals. Its strongest rival, Meituan slowed down its own effort in the development of taxi-hailing as Didi Chuxing stops invading Meituan’s space—food delivery. Two giants are exhausted and Hellobike’s entry is marked at the right time.
Since last December, Ant Financial has invested USD 2 billion and controls more than 36% of Hellobike shares. Beyond that, coordination programs of Hellobike and its backer, like usage of Alibaba Cloud server and elimination of security deposits of Zhima Credit, are keeping the partnership strong.
However, due to relative stable price of taxi service and potential threat to consumption safety under large-scale subsidy incentives, it won’t be easy for Hellobike to leverage the market structure.
Hellobike doesn’t see Didi as an opponent yet. But hopefully we can meet various needs in terms of transportation, says Hellobike CEO Lei Yang in an interview by 36kr.
Whether Hellobike will overtake Didi still remains a question.
(With additional inputs from Xintong Chen, an intern at The Passage.)