The fledgling bike-sharing industry received another notable boost today with the news that Chinese startup Mobike has extended its partnership with Tencent to bring bike-sharing front-and-center through its WeChat app.
WeChat claims more than 880 million monthly active users — though the vast majority of these are in China itself. WeChat is primarily a chat app like WhatsApp, but it has long extended into gaming, video conferencing, and payments. Indeed, it’s through the WeChat wallet section of the app that users will be able to unlock a Mobike in around 35 cities across China. Mobike is in good company: WeChat users can already access Didi Chuxing’s Uber-style ridesharing service through the app too.
Mobike has raised more than $300 million in outside funding, with Tencent leading its $215 million round in January this year.
“Through this integration with WeChat, we offer their massive user base a number of new ways to quickly and conveniently access Mobike’s service,” said Joe Xia, Mobike’s cofounder and CTO. “Moreover, WeChat’s unrivaled reach right across China enables us to bring our offering to even more urban travelers, and further our mission of bringing more bikes to more cities through our truly smart biking platform.”
In September last year, Didi Chuxing invested “tens of millions” in Ofo, a rival bike-sharing startup that went on to close a whopping $450 million round earlier this month. And a couple of weeks back, U.S.-based bike-sharing upstart LimeBike raised $12 million in a round led by Andreessen Horowitz.
With congestion a growing concern in many conurbations around the world, it seems bikes are the hot trend for investors.