Grab, Uber’s chief rival across Southeast Asia, is getting into bike-sharing after it announced plans to integrate oBike’s service into its core ride-hailing app.
The news isn’t a huge surprise since Grab is an investor in oBike, as we reported back last year, so you’d expect there to be a strategic element to that relationship.
This morning’s announcement came as we were verifying a tip-off of the upcoming launch of ‘Grab Cycle’ in Singapore. Last week, n eagle-eyed resident shared photos of Grab Cycle bikes — which show an oBike logo, too — being loaded into a van. Grab declined to comment on Friday when we asked, but now both sides have confirmed the plans via today’s announcement.
It looks like the integration will happen first in Singapore, but oBike is present in other markets in Southeast Asia so there’s potential for a wider rollout over time.
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 Chuxing… 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.
Secondly, there’s an ICO angle. oBike is pushing ahead with a planned token sale through an alliance with controversial crypto project Tron.
Tron saw its TRX digital currency surge over 500 percent in a week to reach a total market cap of $16 billion earlier this month, becoming a top 10 cryptocurrency in the process, despite little to no evidence of an actual product. The value of TRX — which is purportedly a platform for the entertainment industry — slide from around $0.24 to $0.072 as of today after it emerged that Tron had plagiarized ICO project FileCoin and Ethereum to develop its whitepaper and tech.
It’s unclear whether Grab, and other oBike investors, are supportive of the ICO, which TechCrunch understands is scheduled to take place sometime in Q1 2017.
Uber doesn’t currently offer bike-sharing but its head of Asia told TechCrunch last year that it is looking into options in the space.