China's online bike-sharing firms are being encouraged to provide their services without asking users to pay a deposit and to set up their servers in the Chinese mainland to properly protect users' personal information, according to guidelines jointly issued by the Ministry of Transport and nine other government ministries on Thursday.
Under the new guidelines, bike-sharing platforms are required to strengthen supervision on users' capitals and providing services without charging deposits has been encouraged.
Startups that have already received users' deposits or advanced funds are being told to strictly separate it from their own funds by opening up a special account at their registration place, the new regulations note. The account will be subjected to the supervision of related regulators in the transport and finance industries.
Companies will now also be responsible for building a quick deposit refund system so that users can get their money back as soon as they return bikes.
In addition, bike-sharing companies are now obligated to sign agreements with banks and other paying institutions that can provide payment and settlement services for them, the guidelines note.
In terms of information safety, the platforms must set up their servers in the Chinese mainland and roll out further measures to protect personal information. The personal data obtained from users should not be used in a way that abuses users' legal rights and public interests or exceeds the companies' scope of service, the guidelines said.
Furthermore, bike-sharing companies will now be responsible for adopting a real name registration system and ensuring that bikes are not parked on sidewalks, roads or public right-of-ways, according to the guidelines.
China's major bike-sharing platforms Ofo and Mobike said on Thursday that they welcome and support the new rules, which show the government's transparent and encouraging attitude toward the bike-sharing industry.
"The new rules are conducive for the orderly and healthy development of the newly rising industry," Mobike said in a statement sent to the Global Times Thursday, noting that the company has been using big data and GPS technology to adhere to rising market standards.
Ofo also said in a statement sent to the Global Times that the platform has strived to build up a credit system across many cities, allowing users who have accumulated high credit ratings to use its service without paying deposits.