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Technology

Ofo to launch trial in Singapore for users to ride and mine cryptocurrency 

Ofo chose Singapore for its first cryptocurrency-based rewards system after China closed exchanges and banned initial coin offerings

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 April, 2018, 3:19pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 April, 2018, 3:48pm

China’s bike-sharing start-up Ofo is venturing into blockchain technology with plans to launch a rewards system in Singapore where users will receive cryptocurrency tokens for riding.

Users can mine Global Sharing Economy (GSE) tokens, issued by GSELab, when they ride Ofo’s bicycles. For now, GSE tokens cannot be traded or mined by other means. The supply is limited to 10 billion and GSE isn’t listed on any cryptocurrency exchange, according to Etherscan, an analysis website. 

“The goal of launching this campaign is to encourage more users to adopt environmentally friendly way to get around,” said an Ofo spokeswoman. “Ofo will keep focusing on innovative technologies including blockchain in future.”

Ofo has chosen to try out the reward system in Singapore because the environment for cryptocurrency is “more friendly” compared with China, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Singapore has so far adopted a hands-off approach toward cryptocurrency, with the government saying it was assessing developments in the industry. 

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“As of now, there is no strong case to ban cryptocurrency trading here,” Singapore's deputy prime minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said in February in a written answer to questions from members of Parliament. 

“For now, the nature and scale of cryptocurrency trading in Singapore does not pose risks to the safety and integrity of our financial system,” he said. 

Ofo is holding the cryptocurrency trial in Singapore as it faces a potential escalation in competition with its main rival, Mobike, which was acquired by Meituan-Dianping, China’s biggest provider of on-demand services. 

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Ofo founder and CEO, Dai Wei, has personally invested into Tron, a cryptocurrency trading platform, according to Tron’s official website. But launching the “Ride and Mine” campaign is the first official attempt Ofo made in the blockchain area. 

“It’s a signal to the market that Ofo wants to tap into the cryptocurrency world,” said Katt Gu, managing director of iBlock, the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign’s incubator for blockchain-related innovations. 

“GSE needs to go to the exchange market someday, otherwise there will be no exchange value of the GSE tokens,” said Gu.