Messaging app Line has formed an alliance with Chinese startup Mobike. Through this collaboration, they will be launching a short-term bike rental service in Japan by next year. Mobike’s Japanese subsidiary has received an undisclosed amount from Line in Series A funding, in exchange for a 20% equity. The deal will help unite Mobike’s influential position in China with Line’s 168 million users.
The two companies will work toward integrating Mobike’s functionality into the Line messaging app and form an exclusive bike sharing service. Through this partnership 71 million Line users will be able to sign up and avail the Mobike service through the Line messaging platform. The service will come into effect by the first half of next year.
Hu Weiwei, Founder and President of Mobike, said: “LINE is the clear leader in Japan’s social media space, with a strong culture of innovation and creativity, and therefore, is the perfect partner to support our ambitious growth plans in Japan. Mobike brings the best quality smart bikes specifically designed for dockless bike sharing, and an Internet of Things (IoT)-based operation platform to serve local users and communities in Japan. Working together with LINE, we will be able to provide tens of millions of LINE users with a seamless and localized experience for finding, unlocking and paying for bikes with the LINE app.”
This kind of service is quite common in Europe, the United States, and China, where users can simply find, unlock, and pay for bicycles using a designated smartphone app.
Similarly, LINE users in cities where Mobike service is functional will be able to use the service by scanning the QR code on the bike with their Line app. Users will be able to make payments using their Line pay account, and other payment options are also available. Meanwhile, Mobike will operate the services and also provide and protect the bicycles.
Takeshi Idezawa, President and CEO of LINE Corporation, said: “Through this capital investment and strategic business partnership with Mobike, we can support the expansion of Mobike’s service in Japan by leveraging our network of local governments and private companies that make use of our various activities and services.”
However, the areas where Mobike will start operations will be decided post a discussion with interested local governments. Line is also planning to offer their services at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the Paralympics. Within the next year, Mobike plans to expand its services to 10 Japanese cities including Fukuoka.