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Why are investors pouring millions into controversial dockless bike hire?

It's not just your hard cash these canny capitalists want to get their hands on......

Investors are pushing millions of pounds into dockless bike sharing because of the valuable data that users share with the schemes.

According to a new report,  “What attracts investors is the integration of rental services with the Internet or mobile Internet, such as GPS and mobile payment.”

The report estimates that in China, by the end of 2016, the supply of sharing bicycles had exceeded 3 million and is increasing by 1 million per month.

There were 18 million bicycle sharing users by the end of 2016 and this will increase by 200,000 per month in 2017.

The true value for any company is having an account linked to a user’s credit card details, be it Uber or Spotify.

Coupled with geolocation data, this provides a wealth of information and the possibility to squeeze more spending out of each user.

As BikeBiz notes: “Mobike’s backers include major players such as Tencent, Sequoia, TPG, Hillhouse Capital, BOCOM International, ICBC International, and asset management firm Farallon Capital. Earlier investors included Foxconn, which manufactures iPhones for Apple.

“Ofo is backed by Didi Chuxing, China’s version of Uber, and online retail giant Alibaba. It operates six million bikes in 120 cities in five countries. The company was only founded in 2014 but is already valued at $1-billion. It has more than 20 million registered users.

“In America, US-based start-up LimeBike (owned by two Chinese American entrepreneurs) raised $12-million from venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz to finance its expansion. Spin of Seattle, founded by an ex Lyft Product Manager, raised $8-million.”

So despite the controversy surrounding dockless bike hire, including street obstructions, vandalism, theft and local politics, it seems that our data is worth all the hassle to some of the biggest investors in the world.

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