Bike-sharing market in Asia sees rapid surge

An investment professor runs down key factors why bike-sharing scales up so fast.

The bike-sharing economy has been rapidly growing without a halt. An investment professor explores a few factors heavily contributing to the non-stop surge of the popularity of the service anywhere in the world.

According to Jeffrey Towson of Peking University, the contributing aspects why this service has continued to gain nods, especially in China, can be attributed to the place itself, the degree of local competition and mobile payment adoption, among many others. Despite that, he has emphasised that the bike-sharing market owes its growth entirely to the bicycles themselves.

Also read: Singapore's bike-sharing firms mull stricter parking policies

"These bikes grow organically and rapidly in their usage, and this growth requires virtually no marketing spend or support from headquarters," writes Towson in a blog post. "It is an amazing phenomenon that is driven almost entirely by the bikes (i.e. the wild assets) themselves."

Towson notes that bike-sharing services started out small and the progress starts from placing bikes on the streets, waiting after people get the word out of it. He cites Mobike just did that beginning in Manchester with 1,000 bikes in initial deployment.

"The important factor in this process is that the bikes themselves attract the users, get them to download the app, and then deliver the service to them," notes Towson. "The marketing, sales, and delivery of the service are all done by the asset on the sidewalk."

In Singapore, the bike-sharing community continues to take off despite regulatory lapses. However, companies Mobike, Ofo and oBike had already held a dialogue with the Land Transportation Authority to discuss the implementation of stricter parking policies, particularly for bicycles, to regulate indiscriminate parking violations.