Alibaba-backed Chinese bicycle sharing unicorn ofo has partnered with digital wallet Paytm to offer its services in India.
Ofo is currently running pilots across seven cities, including Bengaluru, Indore, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Pune, Coimbatore, and Chennai. VCCircle had earlier reported about ofo’s India entry.
“Our bicycles are technology-enabled and accessible via our app that supports more than 32 million daily rides. In India, we will be supported by Paytm to ensure seamless transactions for our users. Global quality standards ensure our bicycles are light, robust and a joy to ride,” said Rajarshi Sahai, director of public policy and communications, ofo.
The company operates in over 250 cities across 20 countries, including China, Australia, Singapore, Japan and the UK. It claims to generate 32 million transactions daily.
“Building a sustainable low emission last-mile transportation system and addressing congestion issues is a key need in our country. We are excited to partner with ofo bikes to power seamless mobile payments for its bike sharing services in India,” said Kiran Vasireddy, COO, Paytm.
Alibaba is also a significant shareholder in Paytm.
In July, the Alibaba Group, along with cab aggregator Didi Chuxing and DST Global, had pumped in $700 million into ofo, powering its global expansion in the face of tough competition at home. A Reuters report had said that the company was also in talks with SoftBank for a $1-billion funding round.
ofo’s entry into India is a significant development, given that it is the first foreign player in the segment. It is entering a market where three homegrown companies, including ride-hailing firm Ola and Ford- and Sequoia-backed self-drive car rental startup Zoomcar, are running pilots for their respective bicycle sharing services.
Incidentally, Didi, DST Global and SoftBank are also investors in Ola.
Zoomcar had announced its entry into the app-based bicycle sharing market with Zoomcar PEDL in mid-October, and had launched its services in select locations in several cities. Ola had launched Ola Pedal in the first week of November at the IIT-Kanpur campus and is looking to expand to other campuses. InMobi co-founder Amit Gupta, who had recently quit the firm, has also launched a bicycle sharing startup, Yulu.
In its home market, ofo competes with Mobike for the pole position. Both companies are valued at about $1.5 billion, and there has been speculation that the two companies were exploring a merger to bring down the cash burn rates. Mobike is backed by Alibaba rival Tencent.