Noppol Toochinda, General Manager of ‘ofo’ Thailand, announced the launch at a press event in Phuket Town this morning (Sept 20).
“For our first phase, Ofo has provided more than 1,000 smart-lock bikes in key locations in Phuket Town,” said Mr Noppol.
The bikes are available at Prince of Songkla University, Phuket Merlin Hotel, The Pearl Phuket Hotel, The Tint at Phuket Town Hotel, Limelight Avenue Phuket, Sengho Bookstore, Robinson Phuket, Bang Neaw Shrine, Phuket Rajabhat University, Saphan Hin Park and Phuket Old Town.
“The special feature is a scanning QR code on the bike to unlock it, without having to enter a code like the former models. For appropriate parking, the designated park locations will be displayed on the application,” explained Mr Noppol.
The free trial promised as part of the launch of bike-sharing services by provided by ofo, from China, and oBike, out of Singapore (see story here), will start on Oct 1, Mr Noppol added.
In the meantime, Mr Noppol explained, “ofo’s regular service fee will be charged at B5 per 30 minutes usage, with a deposit fee of B99, which can be paid conveniently via the application.
“There is a points system on the phone application. If you park the bicycle at a designated spot, for example, you will be rewarded with points. If you park at a non-designated spot, it will deduct points, which will cost the user more money after a certain number of points have been lost,” said Mr Noppol.
However, there will be many more locations installed before the official launch of the free trial without deposit on October 1, Mr Noppol added.
“We are still looking for good locations to place the remaining bicycles. Any restaurant or business that wants to be involved and have bicycles at the front of their shop can contact us and we can set it up,” he said.
Mr Noppol then answered common queries regarding the bikes, including safety and security concerns.
“To prevent thefts, there is a tracking device inside the bicycle to locate it. Everything is tracked on the application. If you park the bicycle somewhere not appropriate, it will notify you,” said Mr Noppol.
“You can also report any defects or issues regarding your bicycle to the company, via the application. The company can track the location of the bicycle,” he said.
“We also recommend that you wear your helmet for your safety. However, if you don’t… no one will stop you [from renting a bike],” he said.
“We truly want people to use bicycles as an alternative to using cars. It is not about making a profit, it is that we really believe that this can be a great service to people,” he added.
To date, ofo has connected more than 10 million bikes in over 170 cities across nine countries, has been generating more than 25 million daily transactions and has provided over 200 million global users with 4 billion rides in total.