oBike liquidators FTI Consulting respond to refund complaints in Singapore

18 July 2018 3 min. read

In an update on the collapse of Singaporean bike-sharing outfit oBike, company liquidators FTI Consulting have said they’ve received more than 3,000 claims for a refund of customer deposits.

The international business advisory FTI Consulting was brought in as a provisional liquidator for the wind-up of oBike in its home market of Singapore, following an announcement in June that the bike-sharing firm would exit the local market due to the introduction of crippling new Land Transport Authority (LTA) legislation which sought to address indiscriminate parking, with registration costs totaling $60 per bike and fines of up to $10,000 for unlicensed operations.

In a dent to the wide-eyed optimism of a sharing economy reliant on civil human behavior, oBike and similar bike sharing firms have since their introduction received a string of bad press from numerous cities around the world concerning bike dumping, vandalism, visual pollution and, for the dockless models like oBike, indiscriminate parking, with the firms forced to withdraw from several markets due to insurmountable property loss and regulatory crackdowns.

However, a recent spate of sudden service withdrawals from cities in Europe to Australia and Asia and beyond has seen thousands of customers worldwide scrambling for the return of their deposits, with outstanding oBike deposits in Singapore amounting to S$6.3 million in total across a fleet of some 70,000 bicycles. FTI, which is working with the LTA to retrieve the abandoned bikes following a July 4 deadline to have them cleared from the streets, has said it expects more customer refund submissions to come.oBike liquidators FTI Consulting respond to refund complaints in SingaporeThe refund application process has however drawn additional criticism – potentially curbing the number of submissions to date – due to both personal detail requirements and the inability to register for a refund through the oBike mobile app. In response, FTI Consulting clarified in a statement that the oBike app was not presently under the control of oBike Singapore but a separate overseas entity within the oBike group.

“The provisional liquidators have no control over or rights in relation to the operation of the app. As such, the provisional liquidators are presently unable to process any refunds (if any), through the app. However, the provisional liquidators are exploring this option and will update if it becomes feasible,” the FTI statement read, adding that the requested personal information for verification – such as credit card statements, identification numbers or telephone bills - required for the application was in line with regulatory rules in the Companies Act.

The requested information “is intended to provide sufficient details for the provisional liquidators to identify and verify the information submitted by the creditors against the information contained in the company's records,” FTI stated, and that once the relevant statutory requirements had been met the firm would destroy the data gathered solely for the purpose of adjudication – with FTI further assuring bike-sharing customers that their details wouldn’t be shared with oBike or any other third party.