#Asia Line funds Mobike to put bike-sharing in messaging app

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Photo credit: walkingsky / 123RF.

Chinese bike-share startup Mobike today got a boost from Japanese social media giant Line.

Line, maker of a messaging app popular in Japan, has invested in Mobike’s Japan subsidiary, taking a 20 percent stake for an undisclosed sum, the two firms announced this afternoon.

The move comes four months after Mobike rolled out its dockless bikes into select Japanese cities. The service now covers 200 cities around the world.

Line has 71 million users in Japan.

Mobike Line funding

Line boss Takeshi Idezawa (left) with Mobike founder Hu Weiwei. Photo credit: Mobike.

“Line users in cities where Mobike is present will be able to unlock a Mobike simply by scanning the QR code on the bike with their Line app, and pay using their Line Pay account or other payment methods,” said the Japanese firm in a statement.

Mobike is similarly accessible in China inside WeChat, the messaging app with nearly a billion users.

Mobike founder and president Hu Weiwei described Line as the “perfect partner” owing to its huge social media reach.

“Our ambition in Japan is to work with industry-leading Japanese partners like Line, as well as local governments and communities, to bring Mobike to more cities in Japan and to set the global standard for bike-sharing,” she added.

Ofo, Mobike’s archrival, has also expanded to Japan, where its local buddy is telco giant Softbank – though that partnership doesn’t involve financial backing. Ofo is aiming to be in 200 cities globally by the end of the year.

Bike-share battle:

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