oBike owes users in S'pore S$6.3m in deposits

Like taking candy from babies.

Belmont Lay | July 03, 2018, 12:10 PM

oBike founder Shi Yi, 29, told The Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao in interviews on July 2 that he is willing to pay users back their deposits using his own money.

But whether he eventually does is another question.

Here is what was revealed in those interviews:

◘ About S$6.3 million in deposits is owed to users in Singapore.

◘ About 100,000 out of a million users are owed their deposits.

◘ The Shanghai-born Shi said oBike has turned to its shareholders to raise the money and intends to refund users in Singapore their deposits.

◘ But Shi noted that this was still subject to the decision of liquidators, which the company is in the process of appointing.

◘ Shi apologised to users and said the decision to close oBike down in Singapore was a commercial one due to substantial losses here in its first year of operations.

◘ Expenses incurred included the purchase and maintenance of its bicycles and the hiring of staff, Shi said.

◘ Shi added that under the Land Transport Authority's new regulations, oBike would incur expenses of between S$10 million and S$15 million annually.

◘ Shi admitted oBike did not raise as much cash as its competitors, such as Mobike, and was looking to sell the business in March.

◘ But oBike intends to continue its bike-sharing business elsewhere.

◘ Shi said oBike has 70,000 bicycles in Singapore.

◘ oBike cannot meet the July 4 deadline set by LTA to remove its bicycles, but was working to complete the removal process by the week's end.

◘ The company has a team of two people dealing with the LTA, as well as the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) and the Personal Data Protection Commission on issues such as the refunding of user deposits and protection of user data.

◘ Shi has a 23 percent share in oBike.

◘ He said he is willing to pay out of his own pocket to refund users.

◘ "No matter the outcome of liquidation, I want to take the responsibility of paying the share I own back to users," he told ST, adding that he is trying to convince other shareholders to do the same.

◘ oBike began operations in Singapore in January 2017, and closed down suddenly on June 25 this year.


Latest development

Shi has responded to accusations posted online regarding his businesses and his status as oBike's founder.

Despite being featured as oBike's founder in The Straits Times in Oct. 1, 2017, he has disavowed the characterisation and insists he is only an investor in the company.