(Yicai Global) March 16 -- The government of St. Petersburg, Russia, is currently in talks with Beijing Mobike Technology Co. to discuss bringing the bike-sharing unicorn to the port city.
Mobike, the world's first smart bike sharer, could roll out about 50,000 bikes onto the city's streets, local news agency Sputnik reported, quoting an official from the St. Petersburg Transportation Infrastructure Development Commission.
There are set to be 306 million cycle-share riders worldwide by next year, according to Cheetah Mobile Inc.'s research unit Cheetah Lab. Mobike is paving the way to take the craze outside of China and has kicked off services in Chile and the Middle East in the past two months alone as it looks to branch out from the saturated China market.
More than 20 of China's 77 bike sharers closed down or exited the sector last year, Vice Minister for Transport Liu Xiaoming said in February. A cluster of leaders has begun to emerge from the pack, including Mobike and its top rival Beijing Bikelock Technology Co., better known as Ofo.
Now there are fewer competitors in the sector, the two top-tier players have begun turning their eye to making a profit. After a lengthy price war to capture the lion's share of the market, the pair have returned their pricing system to normal, charging CNY20 (USD3.16) for a monthly membership, rather than CNY1.
However, many customers are unhappy with the price 'hike,' and don't feel that the service they receive reflects the normal rates. This could create a path for smaller providers, such as Shanghai Junzheng Network Technology Co. (Hellobike), which is still offering monthly memberships for CNY2.