The familiar yellow bicycles of failed bike-sharing firm ofo have returned to some streets in Singapore in the last week, but this time sporting a different brand
New bike-sharing operator Moovs in with refurbished ofo bikes Bike-sharing start-up Moov Technology bought and refurbished bikes from ofo after being granted a sandbox licence to run up to 1,000 bicycles here. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

The familiar yellow bicycles of failed bike-sharing firm ofo have returned to some streets in Singapore in the last week, but this time sporting a different brand.

They were bought brand-new from a warehouse in Singapore and refurbished by bike-sharing start-up Moov Technology, which in April was granted a sandbox licence to run up to 1,000 bicycles here. The firm launched last week, and its bikes have begun showing up in the western part of Singapore, in places such as Boon Lay and Pioneer.

Moov is the first new entrant since ofo's licence was cancelled in April for failing to meet regulatory requirements. Chief operating officer Sharon Meng, who was formerly the country manager for Mobike, told The Straits Times on Wednesday (July 3) that Moov bought the never-used bikes, and adapted the locks to Moov's system. She said the move made sense both economically and environmentally.

"Earlier this year, we learnt that there were many brand-new bikes that had not been used at all, but were left in the warehouses waiting to be scrapped after other bike-sharing operators exited the market," said Ms Meng. "We believe that cleaning the battlefield and putting the brand-new bikes to good use is the first thing we can do to improve the bike-sharing industry."

The company also plans to introduce its own bike that it says would help to optimise operational efficiency by the end of this year.

Ms Meng, whose former firm, Mobike, is in limbo here, said Moov had chosen to focus its efforts on just one area at the start to ensure the availability of bikes, and picked the west because it had a "good mix" of parking infrastructure and riding conditions. It will then look to expand to more areas in Singapore after it obtains the Land Transport Authority's (LTA) approval to expand its fleet size.

Despite the high-profile failures of predecessors such as ofo and oBike, Moov expressed confidence in its prospects.

"We have a feasible go-to-market strategy and a sustainable business model. As the bike-sharing market in Singapore becomes more mature and rational, we believe that conditions are now favourable enough for a new entrant like Moov to establish itself," said Ms Meng.

Moov's launch makes it the fourth active bike-sharing operator here.

Local start-ups Anywheel and SG Bike have licences to operate 10,000 and 3,000 shared bikes respectively, while Chinese firm Mobike has a licence to operate 25,000 bikes. However, Mobike's future is up in the air. It applied to leave the Singapore market in March, but the LTA has yet to approve the request.

Experts have largely questioned the sustainability of the bike-sharing industry, whose firms struggled after funds from cash-rich backers dried up.

But National University of Singapore transport analyst Lee Der-Horng said it is possible that the industry has turned a page. He said: "The market is more sensible now, as compared to the last time when major operators were fighting based on the volume (of bikes) and were strangled by the financial burden of doing so.

"The new firms are operating on a much smaller scale, and I am sure they will choose to expand and spend in a very careful way. At this new point in time, this seems like a more sustainable industry."