Mercari moves into cycle-sharing with partners

22 Sep 2017

Japan’s stuff site Mercari will diversify its sharing economy business by launching a section for bicycle-sharing early next year. The service will be offered with partners (such as local authorities). The bikes will be stationed near public transport points in cities, and pedestrians (tourists) will be able to search for the nearest bike points with a still-to-be-developed mobile app.

Mercari launched a site at Merchari.bike (use Google Translate), to advertise jobs, explain the idea and call on partners to come forward. The service will gradually be built out, the company said.

Merchari was inspired by the entry of Chinese cycle-sharing start-ups in Japan in recent months. In August, Ofo bike-rental service treaded in, in the wake of bicycle-sharing start-up Mobike, which set up a subsidiary in Fukuoka city in June.

Merchari will start its journey from urban centers early in 2018, from where it’ll expand into other areas, according to a statement.

Tokyo-based Mercari Ltd. will also provide bicycle parking spaces from its platform.

Mercari finished its $74 million U.S. financing in March last year, when it was valued at more than $1 billion U.S. to become Japan’s first unicorn start-up. It has so far secured $110 million U.S..

Although it denied that it had taken a decision to list, it is still reported that the company had applied for an initial public offering.

“Mercari hopes to raise $900 million U.S. in an IPO, and is expected to list in Tokyo still this year,” XCNNews reported. Mercari launched in 2013, and has since then consistently outperformed all its new and old competitors in Japan – including MinneRakuma and Clip.

The Mercari app has been downloaded 75 million times (50 million in Japan and 25 million in the U.S.).

The marketplace also pulls a huge audience to its site (apart from its apps). In August alone, Mercari.com received a staggering 22.4 million visits to its desktop site and mobile site. The site’s traffic has been growing month-on-month for the past six months (see audience chart of SimilarWeb.com).

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Tariq Ahmed Saeedi

Tariq Ahmed Saeedi writes stories on sharing economies in Asia – particularly Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Korea, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Iran. He joined the AIM Group in January 2016. Tariq is also a spotter, monitoring global marketplace industry’s updates. He carries more than 15 years of writing experience. Tariq frequently contributes economic/tech news and analysis to a daily The News International and a magazine. He has also written features and interview articles for various other publications and some of his write-ups have been cited for references in reports by the World Bank and archived in Florida Institute of Technology’s library. Tariq has also narrated corporate website content for Audi importer in Pakistan and others. He started his career from a television’s current affairs department in 2003 and later joined the country’s premier news agency Pakistan Press International.