oBike makes foray into delivery service

oBike Flash is available on oBike's mobile app and allows users to deliver small items between any two points in Singapore, within two hours. PHOTO: ST FILE

Singapore-based oBike continues expanding beyond the bike-sharing sector, with the introduction of a delivery service.

The service, called oBike Flash, is available on oBike's mobile app and allows users to deliver small items between any two points in Singapore, within two hours.

American e-commerce giant Amazon also offers two-hour delivery through Prime Now, which launched here in July last year .

oBike Singapore general manager Tim Phang said the decision to launch the new service is in line with the company's "sharing economy ethos".

"This business model allows time-starved people a more convenient way to send out their items, while leveraging on available resources to fuel the increasing demand for speedier online deliveries.

"It delivers anything that ranges from documents to small packages to food, that could be feasibly transported on a bike or motorcycle," he said, adding that the service is limited to items weighing no more than 10kg.

The service charges $10 for deliveries within a radius of 5km, with deliveries up to 10km charged an additional 30 cents per kilometre.

There is a surcharge of 50 cents per kilometre for distances between 10.1 km and 20km, with deliveries between 11pm and 7am costing one-and-a-half times the usual rate.

Those interested in delivery jobs can register themselves using a separate app, and will be screened before they are allowed to do so.

Delivery staff are not limited to using oBike's bicycles.

According to a spokesman for the bike-sharing firm, about 2,000 people had already applied to be delivery workers as of Friday.

An e-commerce firm - which she declined to name - had also expressed interest in using the service, she added.

Singapore University of Social Sciences economist Walter Theseira believes that food and e-commerce delivery can be a potential market for oBike Flash, but he also notes that there are already other start-ups offering these services.

The introduction of oBike Flash comes less than a month after oBike announced plans to launch its own cryptocurrency, oCoins, in the first quarter of this year .

Last month, it was reported that ofo and Mobike had begun offering ride-hailing services - similar to those from Uber and Grab - in some Chinese cities.

Bike-sharing firms may be diversifying their businesses as they look for other sources of income, says Dr Theseira.

"They're realising the core business model of providing bikes is not what is going to provide the company with a long-term, sustainable and profitable source of revenue."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 14, 2018, with the headline oBike makes foray into delivery service. Subscribe