Briefing: Mobike, Hellobike are charging extra in Shanghai suburbs

摩拜、哈罗正从郊区市场撤退 超出范围停车会向用户收取管理费 – IT时报

What happened: Bike-rental startup Mobike, which is owned by lifestyle app Meituan-Dianping, has started to charge Shanghai users an extra RMB 20 (around $3) if they park a bike outside the company’s main “area of operation,” referring to a region largely encompassed by the the city’s Outer Ring Expressway. According to Mobike customer service, the fee can be returned if the bike is brought back to the city proper within 24 hours. Hellobike users are now also charged between RMB 5 and RMB 50 for parking a bike outside the main operating zone, depending on the city.

Why it’s important: In a bid to keep its biking business afloat, earlier this month Mobike raised usage rates for users in Beijing. The move followed in the footsteps of fellow startup Bluegogo, which raised its prices a few days earlier. Bluegogo went bust in a spectacular fashion in 2017 before being acquired by ride-sharing titan Didi. Mobike’s rates have so far remained the same for Shanghai, but the fees show a push to increase revenue in one of its main cities. Although the bicycles used by bike-rental startups are typically designed to be low-maintenance, companies must still hire employees to retrieve faraway vehicles or shift them in accordance with city regulations. The new fees are likely to make “bike-sharing” less appealing and convenient for users in remote urban areas, however.