Strolling through Beijing these days means seeing piles of bikes from Chinese start-ups aiming to improve urban mobility and promote greener transport.
The top two firms, Mobike and Ofo, have picked orange and yellow for their respective wheels, making the China bike wars an exceptionally colorful one. Money from big investors have pushed company valuations to $1 billion each. But it remains unclear how either expects to make money off cheap bike rides costing a couple of cents.
"Our financial situation is in a very strong position, and we are not in a rush to think about turning a profit," Mobike CEO Davis Wang told CNBC. Investors "recognize that what Mobike is doing can help improve society," he added.
It's a simple concept: use an app to unlock a nearby bike and ride to your final destination for a small fee. And it has taken off in Chinese cities, where getting around can be a pain with terrible traffic and long city blocks.