2018 was a tough year for a fair number of Chinese startups in the sharing-economy sector, especially those in bike- and car-sharing.
Last year on May 16, the Transportation Ministry ordered bike- and car-sharing companies to refund users their deposits from June 1, with a respective two- and 15-working-day deadline – dealing an extra blow to those already grappling with a cash crunch.
By then, there were nearly 16m Ofo users waiting to get back their deposits of either RMB 99 or 199. Another bike-sharing startup, Xiaoming Bike, which filed for bankruptcy in July last year, also confirmed this year that it still owed over 125,000 users more than RMB 25m in deposits.
Car-sharing startups faced similar woes. One example is TOGO, which ceased operations and shut down its headquarters in Beijing even after raising over RMB 300m from five funding rounds since 2015.
Despite such bad news dominating the headlines, China’s sharing economy continued to grow strongly – expanding 41.6% to RMB 2.94tn last year