Who’s next for Boris Bikes? Co-op? Wonga?
By Quentin Webb
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
Memo, Dec. 13 2013
To: Mayor Boris Johnson
From: Blue Sky Thinking Department
Subject: Candidates for Cycle Hire Scheme
As requested – a list of potential replacements for the cycle hire scheme, which seems to have no place in Antony Jenkins’ cuddly new Barclays. No matter. There are many impressive potential candidates out there.
JPMorgan. Because London still loves finance. And like Barclays, this bank needs fewer scandals and more feel-good factor. “London Wheels” not “London Whales”, if you will. We’ll ask Big Mike Bloomberg to put in a word with Jamie.
Co-op Bank. Another financial institution whose reputation needs a re-boot. Bike sharing is 100 percent aligned with the core brand values of mutuality. Think clean living, think cycling, think the Co-op. (But please don’t think substance abuse – on the Tour de France or elsewhere.)
Wonga. Disruptive technology and a fast-growing UK success story – what’s not to like? Wonga loves the pricing model – 2 pounds to get going and 50 pounds if you keep the bike 24 hours. But it suggests going further. Why not let users keep rolling over their bike hire, and clock up a full year for just 5,583 pounds?
Google. High-tech proposal, with sensors added to bikes, which will technically be domiciled in Dublin for tax reasons. Diplomatic contacts suggest this sponsor would be popular with U.S. leadership, especially NSA boss Keith Alexander.
Vodafone. A love for cycling helped boss Vittorio Colao bond with his Verizon counterpart, Lowell McAdam. Now Colao has sold out of the duo’s mobile phone partnership, a ton of cash is headed back to Britain. Why not put some into bikes?
Ryanair. Obvious transport link. Halo effect would be good for boss Michael O’Leary, who’s trying to win round angry customers. Please note the airline’s proposal might need finessing – they want to charge 10 pounds extra for handlebars, and 25 pounds for a back wheel.