Messaging app company Line took the largest minority stake in Mobike Japan during a Series A funding round by the bicycle hire company, which is seeking to boost its presence in the country.

Line led the investment round, acquiring a stake of under 20 per cent for an undisclosed sum. The funding move came as Mobike Japan prepared to launch in the Japanese city of Fukuoka this week, its second city after an initial rollout in Sapporo, and detailed broader plans to expand into more cities in 2018.

The companies said in a statement they will work together to promote bike sharing in Japan and, over the next several months, integrate Mobike functionality as the exclusive bike sharing service for the Line app, enabling the company’s 71 million users in Japan to hire and pay for a bicycle using mobile payment service Line Pay among other methods.

Set the standard
Hu Weiwei, founder and president of Mobike (pictured, right), said: “Working together with Line, we will be able to provide tens of millions of Line users with a seamless and localised experience for finding, unlocking and paying for bikes with the Line app. 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.”

Takeshi Idezawa, president and CEO of Line (pictured, left), explained the company would leverage “our network of local governments and private companies” to assist Mobike Japan achieve its expansion goals.

Mobike is expanding rapidly in Asia: in November it launched service on Australia’s Gold Coast with the aim of deploying 2,000 bikes in the area by January, which followed the launch of a pilot programme in Bangkok at Kasetsart University in partnership with AIS, Thailand’s largest mobile operator. In mid-October, Mobike introduced its service in South Korea in the city of Suwon.

The company raised $600 million in June in a funding round led by Tencent, which brought the total amount raised since October 2016 to $900 million.