Chinese bike-sharing giant ofo is teaming up with Ant Financial, experimenting with a policy of deposit waivers for riders in Shanghai whose Sesame Credit score is over 650.

The fast-growing startup has been questioned over its use of deposits last month. China Central Television openly criticized the depositing systems of the country’s leading bike-sharing apps, Mobike and ofo. Both companies claimed that they keep their operating funds separate from deposits.

Ofo now is joining hands with Sesame Credit, a social credit scoring system under Ant Financial Services Group. Ant Financial is an affiliate of Alibaba Group and the operator of Alipay.

Under the strategic cooperation deal, riders in Shanghai with a Sesame Credit score of 650 or higher can enjoy the bike-rental service without paying the deposit of RMB 99.

Claiming to have 20 million registered users, Ofo co-founder Zhang Siding told China Daily that deposits are inevitable during the nascent phase of such a company, but they hope to unlock a new model to leverage users’ credit ratings.

Ofo is not the first company to cooperate with Ant Financial. Bike-sharing companies including Youon Bike, Qibei and U-bicycle have launched similar services earlier. Youon last month announced that users who have a Sesame Credit score of over 600 rent bikes deposit-free.

Currently, the deposit-free service is only available in Shanghai, but Zhang said that the service may be extended to other cities, and the credit threshold may be adjusted.

(Top photo from ofo’s Weibo)

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Timmy Shen
Timmy is a writer at AllChinaTech. He's passionate about photography, education, food and all things tech. He holds a master's degree from Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. Write to him: timmy[at]allchinatech.com