Friday, April 28, 2017

MoBike means MoFun

Some days there are some things that I witness here that makes me think, "shit, China you really have got your shit together". With that being said let me introduce you to MoBike.

MoBike build 1 bike for every 6 people in the country as their basic business model as a bike sharing company. Sign up with your initial deposit of 299 (about C$60) from which you draw down when you use the bike. If you so desire you can withdraw it at any time, through Wechat of course. 720 million dollars in reserve from this model after one year makes you realize these kids nailed it! This is a country of 1.3 billion people with a history of bike use and no real desire to own a car (from the people I have spoken to). Their logic, to expensive to buy, use gas and insurance. Then it breaks down and you have accidents. In the west we say the same thing but buy one anyways. Interesting observation.

Part 1 : Here is how it works. Using a mobile app, of course, you register and put a deposit into your account. You then search the map from your location to find the nearest bike. You can reserve it for 15 minutes and it is taken off the map. There is either a "red packet" which means "free to use for 2 hours" or a paid bike which costs 2 Yuan and hour (.40 cents). When you locate the bike you walk up to it and using the QR Code scanner on the bike you log it, it unlocks and off you go.  When you are done you just leave the bike where ever you are. Scan it, lock it and you are done. Walk away and the next user will find it. It is that simple. It is now my "go to" for point A to B adventures. I notice that people take great care in leaving the bikes in locations with other bikes or in a safe spot. I make sure I do the same now as well.

Part 2: Getting around. This city as are most in China are designed or have been redesigned with the bike in mind. Bike paths are on every street, are wide and usually barrier-ed from the main road. You do have to fight with scooters and pedestrians at times but it is harmless. The serious challenges are crosswalks or smaller lane bike ways that are beside the road without barriers. Cars absolutely have the right of way at ALL times. No discussion. If you lose you ego and any form of road rage and accept it for what it is you will be fine. If you decide that you can "beat the car or bus" or "screw them I am on a bike", well "may you rest comfortably in the hospital ward or the grave".

Part 3: The Bike. I am to understand these bikes were designed at a price of $1000 each so they are quality bikes. High tempered aluminum frames and wheels, extra vulcanized wide tires, one gear and an important bell. They are not indestructible but they are designed to last in all weather. If you come across a bike that has an issue such as a flat tire, broken pedal or whatever you click an area on the app and the bike is located. The company immediately dispatches a service team to take care of it.  The seats are adjustable, they are light weight and easy to ride. Success breeds competition and withing the year of MoBikes start there are 2 other companies. MoBikes are orange, Company A is yellow and Company B is Green. There are Blue bike around so there may be a 4th company. In this city of 8 million everyone will do just fine. For now, MoBike is King

Part 4: You can only rent one bike per cell phone so the trick is to register with 2 companies. I also have OFO as a back up. If you are with someone without a MoBike account, which is probably nobody, you can still get you hands on 2 bikes. It worked for Olivia who was my guide for the day. I as I did not have my account setup the day we went out. We used Mobike for her and then the OFO  for me. Easy enough. When you are done you receive immediate notice of how much you are charged. The MoBike was a much better bike all round and there were more of them where we were that day. As I said success breeds imitation and once we looked OFO was not as random as we thought.

Part 5: Promotions are insane. When you ride your bike you accumulate points for time used which translates into "free time". This free time can be used by yourself or you can send it as a gift to someone and with a simple use of the app the "free time" is transferred. If you find a "red envelope bike" it is free. Why? Because they have made enough money to cover the cost of the bike that day. Then when you ride the free bike you accumulate double points toward free time. Why all this free time and bonus structure. As it was explained to me the company has every one's 299 Yuan deposit. If you multiple that by the number of users you are reaching into hundreds of millions of American Dollars. The money they make each day on interest on that deposit money can be substantial so they do not want anyone to withdraw it. Few people will because the service and bikes are amazing. I do not want to get into a business management discussion but the start up costs must have been massive and who knows what the Cost of Business is? Don't want to know, don't care.

Why not Canada? When it comes to something logical such as a bike sharing program the first issue would be price. A Canadian company would charge way to much for anyone to get excited. The people of China actually respect the bikes and take care to leave them with other bikes or somewhere away from them being damaged. Canadians would aim to destroy them because that is how we roll. I could not even want to think about theft. We are also a car country and in cities making an effort to introduce a bike culture car drivers think they own the road and do not respect bike drivers. Bike drivers feel they live on a moral high ground and have no respect drivers. Our roads are not designed for bike lanes and the list goes on.

I will add MoBike to the growing list of things I marvel at here in the Middle Kingdom.

 Here is a link to the Website

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