Hi Fabian. We like to begin by asking our interviewees: From a market perspective, specifically from the standpoint of mobility service providers (MSPs), what three hashtags come to mind when you think of the term "standard mobility platform"?
Off the top of my head, I'd say #ScalingThroughPartnerships and #NewTargetGroups.
What exactly do you mean by #ScalingThroughPartnerships?
The great advantage of a standard mobility platform for mobility sharing providers is that all the set-up and integration work only has to be done once. Specifically, that means you only have to enter into one contract with us in order to be integrated into every app based on our platform. Such a contract always includes numerous aspects: legal, capacity, commercial, product – and these apply to both contractual partners. Several teams are involved on both sides. In this respect, it is hugely beneficial to only have to conclude one such agreement and then – with the approval of the respective sharing partner – to be automatically integrated into every app. Of course, the same is true for the technical requirements.
What other advantages does a standard mobility platform have for MSPs?
From a commercial point of view, Mobimeo also brings tremendous savings for MSPs. For instance, once we have integrated several MSPs into our MaaS platform, a user's driving license only has to be validated once. All sharing providers use external service providers to perform the validation, and of course they take a fee for their services. This is money that has to be earned – through trips the users make. It’s one example of costs that can be distributed between multiple MSPs on a standard mobility platform.
And what do you mean by #NewTargetGroups?
A standardised platform provides a valuable basis for cooperation between the diverse public transport companies and sharing providers, for example in establishing and operating mobility hubs. With several MSPs integrated into the platform, it becomes far easier to link their services with the help of a mobility hub. For the MSPs, integration into the digital public transport offering extends their reach and opens up new user groups. Meanwhile, for users, it means greater choice and convenience thanks to connected mobility.
Does a third hashtag spring to mind?
#FocusOnTheProduct. For a standard mobility platform, it is absolutely crucial that all parties involved pull together and focus on the product. This applies to us as teams and equally to the way we cooperate with our partners. Standards must be set and implemented consistently in order to reap the benefits. Mobimeo is not able to meet every specific requirement of an individual transport company in the same way they are set out in tenders, for example. If we were to cater to all specific conditions of local app providers, we would have to maintain and develop several source codes. That would eliminate the same economy of scale we wish to leverage and also increase the corresponding operating and development costs that are passed on to our customers. With this in mind, the technical requirements, e.g. for APIs, need to be clearly defined so that we have the right information for negotiating with MSPs and tech providers from the start.
What is important to the MSPs you talk to?
They only want to integrate into larger platforms and apps with a wide reach – not individual apps of smaller, regional transport associations. That's because the profitability factor has increasingly become the MSPs' primary focus over the past few months. They are now targeting profitability rather than growth at any price.
Let's talk numbers: What is an important figure in the mobility industry from your team's point of view?
Ten million! That is the number of e-scooter riders in Germany in 2022. In other words, 22 percent of all 18- to 59-year-olds. Five years ago, the e-scooter was still solely a niche product. The speed of market penetration is impressive. The number of car-sharing users has also grown significantly: as many as 3.4 million drivers have now signed up for car-sharing – with 30,000 vehicles in Germany. Of course, this situation offers huge potential in terms of capacity utilisation.
Are all MSPs operating profitably?
The profitability of sharing providers is indeed a potential barrier to further growth. So far, providers are still finding it difficult to turn a profit, especially at scale and outside metropolitan areas. The sharing business requires a lot of capital due to the large investments in technical development and vehicles. Indeed, the market consolidation we have already seen in 2022 is likely to continue with further acquisitions in 2023.
What else can Mobimeo do for the MSPs?
One example is that mobility hubs can greatly assist in making MSPs' logistics and operations simpler – and thus cheaper – by having a concentration of vehicles in one location. If 200 vehicles are parked in one place, they are much easier to maintain than if they are spread all over the city. There are major synergies to leverage in this regard. The public transport provider makes the space available, while users receive financial incentives to park their sharing vehicles at the mobility hub, where they are easy to charge and service.
Of course, such cooperation between MSPs and public transport is also in the interest of the respective city, so it can play a role in dispelling any reservations the decision-makers may have about micro-mobility services.
Final question: What is your personal vision for the future of a standard mobility platform?
In the future, there will be apps based on the standard mobility platform that work throughout Germany and give people a first-rate user experience (UX). They will offer quick and easy access to all relevant MSPs and tech providers, resulting in a complete range of mobility options, from public transport to sharing and on-demand. With a single account, users will be able to search, book and pay for various means of transport to match their needs and preferences anywhere in Germany, from the cities to the countryside.
Thank you very much for the interview, Fabian.