Alternative app that can unlock VanMoof bikes more popular amid bankruptcy fears
A new app to unlock bicycles produced by the financially troubled Amsterdam firm, VanMoof, has reached the top tier of most popular iPhone apps in the Netherlands within a day. VanMoof's Belgian competitor, Cowboy, launched an app called Bikey for iOS on Thursday, and less than a day later it was one of the top three free apps in the Dutch market.
Once it became public knowledge that VanMoof needed protection from its creditors, the company's e-bike owners grew more concerned about whether the VanMoof app will still work. The app is capable of unlocking the bike for its rider.
Cowboy, which also makes electric bicycles with many technological features, launched Bikey in which the digital key for VanMoof bicycles can be stored. Some other basic settings are also accessible via the app.
Apple's App Store rankings are not just about download figures, but are also based on usage data. Cowboy itself said they were not seeking to aggressively increase user numbers when launching Bikey. "It is our mission to get people to cycle more," the company wrote in response to questions. "We want to reduce the risk of waste and keep bikes on the road."
VanMoof was granted deferment of its payments earlier this week after years of mounting losses. These were partly the result of the many repairs that were necessary under warranty due to defective new bicycles. Even before the deferment was requested from the District Court of Amsterdam, Dutch consumer group Consumentenbond said that a remarkable number of complaints were received about the bicycles, including the long delivery times and waiting times for repairs.
Another concern is how long VanMoof bicycles themselves will remain usable if the company goes bankrupt. The company worked with parts specially developed for the brand and it is not known how long they will remain in stock.
Administrators now seem to be taking a relatively long time to find a solution, granting a two-month cooling-off period. During this time, creditors cannot make any claims without administrators' consent.
In the event of a bankruptcy, the Consumentenbond will advise customers who paid for a bicycle, but are still waiting for it to be delivered, to report it as a debt to the curator. They will then be added to the list of creditors. "But unfortunately they will not be at the front of the line," the organization said. Those at the front of the line will be the Dutch tax authorities, work and benefits agency UWV, "and then the banks."
Reporting by ANP