Grab, Uber’s chief rival across Southeast Asia appears to be getting into bike-sharing after plans for a joint service with oBike surfaced in Singapore.
Last week, an eagle-eyed resident in Singapore shared photos of Grab Cycle bikes — which show an oBike logo, too — being loaded into a van.
TechCrunch.com reported, however, Grab declined to comment when asked about an integration, but it wouldn’t be a huge surprise since it is an investor in oBike, as we reported back last year, and you’d expect there to be a strategic element to that relationship.
The companies did, however, announce on Jan 22 that oBike will integrate GrabPay, Grab’s mobile payment service, into its app. There was also a heavy hint at other imminent collaborations.
“The two tech companies are also working closely together with more joint initiatives in the pipeline to improve the on-demand transport infrastructure in Singapore. Details of these initiatives will be revealed in the coming weeks,” oBike said in a statement.
Grab, in a statement released later, added its own not-quite-confirmation of the impending bike-sharing partnership:
"We’re extending the use of GrabPay beyond transport and now have over 1,000 merchants in Singapore who accept GrabPay for other services like F&B or retail. We’ll keep providing more places where our customers can use GrabPay, and are open to all partnerships.
"We always explore new mobility options and are today the only player with a real multiple transport service proposition – one that caters to consumers with different travelling preferences and price points. While launching a new service is still preliminary, we look forward to exploring collaborations with all transport providers in the industry.
It looks like the integration will happen first in Singapore, based on what the TechCrunch.com team have seen, but oBike is present in other markets in Southeast Asia so there’s potential for a wider rollout.
oBike has raised over $50 million from investors and it claims 10 million users. Impressive though those numbers are, they pale into comparison when compared with Chinese unicorns Ofo and Mobike, which have raised close to $2 billion collectively and expanded to 200 cities worldwide each.
Grab’s tie-in with oBike follows a trend of ride-hailing companies embracing bikes, and it is interesting on a few levels.
For one, oBike competes with Ofo and Mobike, while Ofo itself is backed by Didi Chuxin, which is an investor in Grab, too.
The Didi-Ofo relationship hasn’t worked out too well, with Didi last week launching a service aimed at containing the threat that Ofo poses to its ride-hailing service, but Grab will hope for better.