China’s Ofo to launch bike-sharing service in India through tie-up with Paytm

Beijing-based bicycle sharing start-up Ofo is expected to launch its services in India on Monday and will be made available on Paytm, three people familiar with the development said. Social media posts from One97 Communications’ founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma hinted at the launch via a tweet on Twitter.

Ofo did not respond immediately to an e-mail requesting details of the launch. The development was first reported by the Economic Times in October. According to the report, users will be able to book and pick up Ofo bikes for $1 per hour using an app. The service is aimed at metro cities and the company has already held talks with government regulatory bodies, the report added.

Ofo signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) last week. Under the MoU, the company plans to create city wide bicycle networks, which is likely to be expanded into other metro cities in India.

The company is also expected to launch the service in Chennai, Indore, Ahmedabad and Bengaluru and it will also invest money for importing bicycles to India, according a report in November 2017 from Chinese news agency Xinhua.

“We are delighted to partner with the city of Pune. We wish to improve its quality of life in the city by providing a healthier, quicker, and greener alternative to motor vehicles. Our mission is to solve the ‘last mile’ transportation problem in India’s urban areas and we see immense potential in Pune for Ofo’s convenient, affordable and low carbon way of travel,” Rajarshi Sahai, director of public policy & communications at Ofo said in a statement last week while announcing the tie up with PMC.

Founded in 2014, Ofo has operations in over 250 cities across 20 countries with over 200 million global users. In July 2017, Ofo secured a Series E round of funding worth S$700 million led by Alibaba, Hony Capital and CITIC Private Equity. At that time, the company said that it plans to deploy 20 million new bikes and expand its service to more countries.

Ofo’s launch in India comes after domestic start-ups also expressed interest in the category. But Ofo will be the first international company to launch bike sharing in India.

Online cab aggregator Ola introduced bicycle sharing service called Ola Pedal in December 2017. The launch was exclusive in IIT Kanpur campus, but the company mentioned in a statement that it is working on expanding the scope of the service in the coming weeks.

In October 2017, self-drive car rental start-up Zoomcar also launched a bicycle sharing service named PEDL in the Mumbai metropolitan region, Pune, Chennai, Kolkata and Bengaluru, operating around 500 bicycles.

This article was first published on LiveMint.com.