Chinese bicycle-sharing startup Mobike to expand into Japan this year


Chinese bicycle-sharing startup Mobike said Thursday it plans to launch its services in the city of Fukuoka within 2017.

The company aims to expand into other parts of Japan in the future, a public relations official said.

Through a designated app on their smartphones, users of the service can find, unlock and pay for bicycles. They can drop off the bicycles anywhere, in principle.

Mobike first launched its services in Shanghai last year. It now operates 5 million bicycles in China where bicycle-sharing services have been spreading fast thanks to their convenience and environmental friendliness.

In Japan, however, the company will face the challenge of securing parking space for its bicycles. This is the biggest problem for Mobike in Japan, an official in the city of Fukuoka said.

It is not a big problem to drop off a bicycle along the wide sidewalks in Chinese cities, but space tends to be more limited on roads in Japanese cities.

Mobike is considering a number of measures, one of which is setting up designated parking areas at convenience stores here.

If the service proves a hit here, rival companies in China may follow suit, industry sources said.