After an on-and-off month-long race to win over customers with free rides, Chinese bike-sharing pioneers ofo and Mobike have entered a new round of competition, with both companies offering users random cash rewards of up to 5,000 yuan per ride.
Following Mobike's cash-reward plan, launched in late March, ofo announced on April 16 that it would offer its own rewards. Both companies are offering random gifts ranging from one to thousands of yuan per ride, provided the ride lasts more than 10 minutes and covers a distance of at least 500 meters. In particular, ofo offers a maximum of 5,000 yuan for reward.
Mobike users hoping to cash in need to find and unlock bikes marked with hongbao, or red, cash-filled envelopes. Ofo users, meanwhile, can ride any bike within particular regions tagged as offering hongbao. Ofo also noted that higher rewards are more likely to be given to users who park their bikes in city-designated areas. As for Mobike, the company's cash rewards aim to encourage all users to increase the efficiency of shared bike use.
Shared bikes are becoming increasingly popular in China, especially among white-collar workers during rush hour. Hence, bikes are often in high demand near bus or subway stations. While the rewards aim to strategically guide the distribution of bikes, it remains difficult to produce bike flow from offices to transportation hubs in order to guarantee bike supply.
Nevertheless, both companies appear to be thriving. Mobike announced on April 13 - less than one month after its reward policy was made public - that it set a record of 20 million bike rides on a single day. Ofo achieved its own record of 10 million rides at the end of March, media reported.