(Yicai Global) June 11 -- Beijing Mobike Technology, one of the world's biggest cycle sharers, has unveiled plans to unconditionally offer deposit-free riding across 100 more Chinese cities.
The scheme will be available to new and existing users, state-backed news site The Paper cited Mobike as saying today. The firm has already been allowing deposit-free rides in a number of cities since last month and now plans to expand into more second- and third-tier cities. The country's biggest metropolises, such as Shanghai and Beijing, will not be included, though the company said it would roll out the program nationwide when the time is right.
Security deposits have been a major concern across the industry over the past year, with a host of providers misappropriating the funds and/or going bust and being unable to repay them. Though the biggest names in the business deny exploiting the deposit money, general market belief is that if a mass of users were to withdraw their collateral, the companies would fail.
Mobike's competitors have also taken to offering deposit-free riding to quash consumer woes. Its biggest rival, Beijing Bikelock Technology (Ofo) began a scheme covering 25 cities last year, but has since trimmed that down to five. Shanghai Junzheng Network Technology (Hellobike) has allowed users across the country to ride without an upfront payment since June.
Users in eligible cities can apply for their deposit to be refunded at any time, the Mobike statement added, saying that requests will be promptly handled and riding will not be affected.
Editor: James Boynton