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Ofo lands in Austria

By Ouyang Shijia | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-08-28 17:39
Ofo lands in Austria

A rider uses a smartphone to unlock an Ofo shared bike in Austria. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Chinese bike-sharing titan Ofo Inc announced on Monday it has landed in Austria, as the company ramps up its efforts to expand the booming cycle empire into the overseas market.

The move marks the firm's latest move to fulfill its ambitious goal to pedal to 200 cities in 20 countries by the end of this year, as competition with its top rival, Mobike Technology Co Ltd, intensifies in the global market.

Dai Wei, founder and CEO of Ofo, said they saw great potential for Ofo's environmentally-friendly and affordable dockless bicycle services in Austria.

"Station-free bike sharing is our pioneering concept and has changed both the sharing economy and transport options in cities across the world. We recognize the demand for this type of public transportation and want to solve traffic problems in urban areas,” Dai said.

Ofo said after reaching an agreement with the city of Vienna, capital of Austria, it would begin a one-month pilot phase in the city to allow all users to ride the yellow shared bikes free of charge.

After the pilot phase, the company will deploy a full fleet of 2,000 bikes across Vienna. Users will be able to ride the shared bikes by simply scanning a QR code printed on the bike via the downloaded app and paying 1 euro ($1.2) per hour online on their smartphones.

Martin Blum, managing director and representative for cycling matters, Vienna said the station-free bike-sharing service was "the biggest innovation to public bicycle transportation methods ever".

"We are working in close cooperation with local authorities in order to ensure that Ofo becomes a valuable part of the range of transport on offer to Vienna's citizens", said Fred Dong, Ofo launcher for Austria. "We are excited about launching our service in Vienna, to make the city even more bike-friendly. We hope that we can advance our Austrian expansion further."

Founded in 2014, Ofo offers riders convenient bike-sharing services that allow users to rent and park the dockless shared bikes anywhere they prefer, while complying the local regulations.

The Beijing-based company, valued at more than $2 billion after it raised $700 million in its latest series E round of financing in July, currently operates more than 8 million bikes in over 170 cities across nine countries.

It has generated more than 25 million daily transactions and provided bike-rental services for over 100 million global users.

As in all other cities where it operates, Ofo will have a local support team in Vienna to manage bicycle distribution and maintenance. Employing an intelligent transport analytical system, the team is able to determine real-time traffic patterns and usage demands and then distribute the bikes to needed places.

The $700 million funding Ofo raised is the biggest known round of financing in the bike-sharing industry to date, surpassing Mobike's over $600 million round in June this year.

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