Chinese bike-sharing company Mobike might be looking to spin off its European arm after it was revealed that it’s being investigated for possible breach of the European Union’s (EU’s) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
The company is owned by Chinese eCommerce company Meituan Dianping, which is backed by Chinese tech group Tencent. However, as one source told the Financial Times (FT), “Meituan has no international division of any shape or form and probably doesn’t want one, and when it acquired Mobike, it acquired the international arm.”
“We have been in discussions with potential investors to make Mobike a separate European entity and raise money against that,” they added. “Meituan will maintain a stake in Mobike’s Europe business, but it may, over time, be a minority stake — it’s not divesting all of Mobike Europe.”
The news comes after the announcement that “the Berlin commissioner for data protection and freedom of information had already planned to launch an investigation into car- and bike-sharing companies. … It is [planning] to request a written response from Mobike in the coming week, and to request answers to a catalog of questions,” according to a statement.
Mobike is currently in 23 cities across Europe, including London, Paris, Madrid, Milan and Rotterdam. While the EU is concerned about the amount of data that all bike- and car-sharing platforms collect about their users, there is added worry when a provider transfers data to a foreign country.
A recent article by Alexander Hanff, a researcher on data ethics at Singularity University, claimed that “Mobike is not GDPR or ePrivacy compliant — it is far beyond time that such compliance should be required before public authorities allow such services to exist in their communities,” he wrote.
As for this most recent report, Steve Milton, head of EU growth at Mobike, said: “We don’t comment on rumor or speculation.” A spokesperson for Meituan also declined to comment.