Four companies apply for bike-share licence

Anywheel, Mobike, ofo and SG Bike have submitted their applications to LTA for a licence to operate dockless bicycle rental services.
Anywheel, Mobike, ofo and SG Bike have submitted their applications to LTA for a licence to operate dockless bicycle rental services.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Anywheel, Mobike, ofo and SG Bike keen to continue offering bike rentals under new regime

Four bike-share companies - Anywheel, Mobike, ofo and SG Bike - have submitted their applications to the Land Transport Authority (LTA) for a licence to operate dockless bicycle rental services.

Mobike and ofo, which are from China, and Singapore-founded Anywheel confirmed yesterday they had submitted their documents, while SG Bike did so on Wednesday.

Despite suggestions from recently-shuttered oBike that the requirements under the licensing regime may be too onerous, the four firms say they are keen to continue offering bicycle rentals here.

Under the new regime, the fleet sizes of each bike-share operator will be controlled, and they will have to take measures to ensure their users park responsibly, failing which they will be fined.

Besides a one-time application fee of $1,500, some of the regulatory costs also include a $60 fee for every bicycle deployed, comprising a $30 licensing fee and $30 security deposit.

ofo Singapore said it has applied to run a fleet of 80,000 bikes here, while Anywheel is looking to deploy 30,000 bikes.

SG Bike, which has a fleet of 1,500 bicycles currently, would only say it is applying to operate a larger fleet size than that.

Mobike Singapore declined to reveal the fleet size it was applying for.

Ms Sharon Meng, Mobike Singapore's country manager, said: "We remain confident th at we have submitted a compliant bid."

Asked about the LTA's licensing regime, SG Bike's marketing director Benjamin Oh said: "The costs are manageable. We'll try to grow at a sustainable rate, and make sure that whatever number of bicycles we bring in, we can manage the fleet responsibly."

Anywheel founder Htay Aung said the firm has a rental fleet which is in the "thousands" but it is looking to expand its operations under the GrabCycle market place app platform, which allows users to rent bicycles and e-scooters from different companies.

He expects Anywheel's bikes to be available on GrabCycle in the "next few weeks", which will fill the vacuum left by oBike - one of Grab's partners.

Mr Yau Fun Heng, general manager of ofo Singapore, said: "The company remains confident in the bike-sharing industry in Singapore and will continue working with our partners to positively contribute to the Singapore Government's vision of a car-lite nation."

On Monday, Chinese-founded oBike announced that it was shutting down operations.

The company has been given a deadline of July 4 by the authorities to clear its fleet of at least 14,000 bicycles, which are still strewn about the island.

The National Parks Board (NParks) also said yesterday that it would work with the LTA to remove oBikes from parks and park connectors after the deadline.

Uncollected bikes will be impounded, the LTA has said, and oBike or its liquidator will then have to pay the relevant towing and storage fees to redeem them.

Meanwhile, banks said they have been receiving chargeback requests from oBike users who have been unable to get their deposits, of up to $49, returned. A chargeback allows credit card users to dispute a charge and reverse the transaction.

The Straits Times understands that one Singapore bank has received more than a hundred inquiries from customers in the past week on this.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2018, with the headline 'Four companies apply for bike-share licence'. Print Edition | Subscribe