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oBike to stop bike sharing in Singapore due to new regulations, viability issues

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Bicycle sharing company oBike is ceasing operations in Singapore from June 25, citing difficulties in complying with regulations, the company announced on a Facebook post on Monday.

BICYCLE sharing company oBike has become the second dock-less bicycle business to shutter its Singapore operations rather than apply for a licence from the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

Singapore-based oBike told The Business Times on Monday that it is pulling out of the Singapore market due to new regulations imposed by the authorities, which will make the bicycle-sharing business model not a "viable" one for oBike and will cause the company "further losses".

In a statement, oBike said: "It is with deep sadness that we have to pull out of the Singapore market. We truly believe that bikesharing as a first and last mile transportation, has an important role to play in a car-lite society. However, due to the new regulations imposed by the authorities, this will not be a viable business model for oBike and we foresee that it will only cause the company to sustain further losses."

The company first announced in a Facebook post on Monday that it will cease operations in its home base from June 25.

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"oBike is announcing its decision to cease operation in Singapore as a result of difficulties forseen to be experienced to fulfil the new requirements and guidelines released by Land Transport Authority towards dock-less bicycle sharing in Singapore," the company said. "oBike strongly believes and is committed to provide dock-less bicycle sharing service that would benefit users' commuting and Singapore's transportation system, however it is with regret that the new regulation measures do not favour this belief of ours."

The move comes after GBikes, which was supported by financial technologies firm FinTechSG, told users earlier this month that it would stop its service in July.

Singapore's bicycle-sharing companies, which include China-based companies Mobike and ofo and homegrown company SG Bike, will be required to be licensed by the LTA from July 7. As part of the licensing regime, operators will face restrictions on fleet size, among other obligations mostly related to indiscriminate parking.

oBike, which said that it has more than one million users in Singapore, launched in January 2017. The company said on Monday that users will still be able to use its services through GrabCycle, which is a partner of oBike. Grab has refuted that position, however, saying in a statement that oBike's bicycles will no longer be available on Grab's platform.

"We will no longer be able to offer their bikes on our GrabCycle marketplace app," Grab said. "We are strong believers in the bicycle and personal mobility device-sharing opportunity, and its impact on the liveability of our future cities. We will continue to serve and grow GrabCycle, as we work towards our vision as the everyday app with multiple transport options and daily essential services for consumers."

BT understands that oBike and GBikes are no longer partners on Grab's GrabCycle platform. GrabCycle's two other partners are Anywheel and PopScoot.

When asked if GrabCycle remains relevant with the departure of two of its four partners, a Grab spokesman said: "Yes, it's a marketplace so we work with different partners and will bring more onto our platform."

Singapore is not the only market to try to control dock-less bicycle sharing businesses. Earlier in June, oBike said that it was exiting the Melbourne market due to rules against abandoned bicycles.

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