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Mobike drops deposit fee policy for local users following oBike’s abrupt exit

SINGAPORE — Bike-sharing company Mobike on Friday (June 29) announced that it is dropping the deposit fee requirement for all Singapore users, four days after oBike's sudden exit from the Republic.

Mobike drops deposit fee policy for local users following oBike’s abrupt exit
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SINGAPORE — Bike-sharing company Mobike on Friday (June 29) announced that it is dropping the deposit fee requirement for all Singapore users, four days after oBike's sudden exit from the Republic.

This new "deposit-free" policy applies to all existing and new users with the Singapore country calling code +65, the company said in a media release.

Existing users can request for a refund of the S$49 deposit fee through the app, which will be refunded to their bank account within 10 working days, a Mobike spokesperson told TODAY, adding that there will be no disruption to the service.

Without referring to the oBike fallout, Mobike said the decision to introduce the deposit in March 2017 was made to "encourage the proper use of smart bikes".

But as the company determined through data-driven analyses that "Mobikes are widely used consciously in Singapore", it decided to go deposit-free.

"We would like to thank our riders in Singapore for helping to cultivate a healthy and enjoyable bike sharing experience for all. In our show of appreciation, we are waiving deposits for Singapore-registered users," said Mobike Singapore country manager Sharon Meng.

Ms Meng added that Mobike is "fully prepared to work with local authorities and will continue investing in technologies to improve our services".

With this move, Mobike joins other bike-sharing companies such as Ofo, Anywheel and SG bike in not requiring riders to put down a deposit for the use of their services.

On Monday, oBike abruptly announced the cessation of its services in Singapore. The news left customers angry and frustrated, as they sought the return of their deposits — S$19 for students and S$49 for other users.

As of Friday, the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) said it had received 884 complaints against oBike, which has gone into liquidation. This was a 32-fold spike from Monday.

Although the remaining bike-sharing operators had earlier told TODAY that they have yet to experience any backlash from commuters, at least two operators admitted to receiving requests for refunds.

The companies also said they are worried that oBike's sudden exit and financial woes could hurt trust and confidence in the fledgeling industry.

In announcing its closure on Monday, oBike cited a new licensing regime for bicycle-sharing operators to tackle indiscriminate parking as a reason for its withdrawal from the Singapore market.

LTA defended its licensing regime on Thursday, saying that "over-regulation could lead to higher compliance costs for operators which could in turn be passed on to users, and stifle innovation".

"The licensing of license bicycle-sharing operators is not intended to address non-parking issues such as service standards and user deposits," LTA added.

"Bicycle-sharing operators who share our vision and are able to operate responsibly are welcome to apply for a licence to operate in Singapore."

Applications for the licence opened last month for bicycle-sharing operators, and will close on July 7. SG Bike, Ofo, Mobike and Anywheel have submited their applications.

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