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Business

Can China's bike-sharing boom last?

Popularity may simply reflect Chinese embrace of mobile payments, smartphones

| China
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Men ride Ofo shared bicycles along Chang'an Ave. n central Beijing.   © Reuters

Bike-sharing has taken off in China far faster than in any other market where it's been offered. The unexpected popularity of the services has attracted lots of investment capital and media coverage. However, it is also raising questions about profitability, wide-spread bike vandalism and theft, and growing government regulation. Hype, scrutiny and liquidity have overwhelmed a nice, convenient and surprisingly popular service.

Why did bike-sharing take off so rapidly in China versus other countries, especially when bikes could already be purchased here for as little as $7? Chinese services like Mobike and Ofo are entering markets overseas like Singapore, London and Silicon Valley, but will they catch on more than previous attempts there? Could these services all be a fad?

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