Ant Financial-backed Hello Chuxing boosts its ‘hitchhiking’ service with USD 75 million in subsidies

Meanwhile, Didi Chuxing suspended a similar service following two rape and murder cases.

Chinese ride-sharing company Hello Chuxing, not to be confused with Didi Chuxing, announced Wednesday via its official Sina Weibo account that it set up a fund with RMB 500 million (USD 74.3 million) to fuel its hitchhiking services.

In China, a hitchhiking platform matches passengers who need a ride with drivers who are heading the same way, allowing both to cut travel expenses on trips, say between cities. The platform then takes a cut from the amount received by the driver.

Jiang Tao, who is in charge of Hello’s hitchhiking business, said that in the first phase, the funds will be used to encourage both car owners and passengers to match up for trips around the upcoming May Day holiday.

The measures include a platform commission rate waiver, 50% discounts for passengers and bonuses for car owners who are willing to share their available seats.

Hello Chuxing, which is the reincarnation of bike-sharing brand Hellobike, launched its hitchhiking business in more than 300 cities around China in February, when China’s largest ride-hailing platform Didi Chuxing had suspended a similar service following two rape and murder cases.

One week ago, Jiang said in an open letter to Zhang Rui, head of Didi’s hitchhiking business that Hello has taken a slew of measures to guarantee safety.

He said Hello’s platform has no social function at all as it has no profile photo for passengers or drivers. In the previous cases involving Didi, the perpetrators had evidently picked up hitchhiking orders after seeing the profile photos and personality tags of young female passengers.

Hello’s platform does not allow a passenger or a driver to comment on each other and also hides phone numbers to protect both sides’ privacy.

Zhang added that there is also a round-the-clock safety hotline for anyone in need of help.

In addition, Hello has connected with police in various areas via a “green channel” to share real-time data to ensure a fast response. However, he did not reveal how many areas already have this direct police channel link up.

Jiang encouraged both companies to strive for improving hitchhiking services.

Ant Financial was one of the investors in Hellobike’s USD 350 million Series D1 fundraising round.

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Editor: Nadine Freischlad