The rental price of shared power banks in China is now four times higher than when the concept entered the market several years ago. It now costs 4 yuan ($0.62) per hour to charge your phone, or up to 40 yuan for a 24-hour period. The hashtag #shared-power-banks-rent-increases-from-1-yuan/hour-to-4-yuan/hour# has been viewed over 160 million times on Weibo.
What’s the story?
Yu Daisong, a researcher from the economic department at Southwest University, said in an interview with The Cover (link in Chinese) that the booming shared economy model has followed a two-stage pattern.
In the first stage, business owners usually roll out special offers to attract as many consumers as possible. With shared power banks, some brands originally had a “first thirty minutes free” offer when they initially launched along with low rental prices and constant discounts.
However, after the user base reached a critical mass, Yu claimed the market then entered a second stage in which business owners started to shift their focus to increasing profits and that meant raising rental prices.
According to iResearch Consulting Group, a Chinese market research and consulting company, the shared power bank market size has grown from 80 million users in 2017 to 290 million users in 2020. A prominent player, Energy Monster, has completed a 500-million-yuan Series C funding.
What are people saying online?
From free for the first thirty minutes and 1 yuan/hour after that to 4 yuan/hour, most Weibo users believe that renting a power bank has lost any advantage it once had over buying one. One popular comment read, “The rent is too high. If I have to pay that much to get my phone fully charged, I’d rather buy a power bank at this point.”
But some also said that they found shared power banks irreplaceable under certain circumstances. “When I go to the mall, I really do not want to carry a heavy power bank with me the whole time. You don’t understand how great a rental power bank can be,” said one phone user.