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“MaaS Global is dead; long live MaaS”

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Finnish mobility startup MaaS Global filed for bankruptcy in the District Court of Helsinki on Thursday with the industry citing its subscription model as a key factor in its downfall.

MaaS Global is known for its Whim app which lets users book public transport, shared mobility such as e-scooters and e-bikes, taxis and rental cars all on one platform. At the start of March MaaS Global informed its customers that the app would cease to operate according to Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.

The company’s file for bankruptcy comes after a period of loss-making operations. In 2022 it made a loss of €9.3 million and turned over €3.8 million despite having 10,000 active monthly users in Helsinki.

“It is very sad to learn the news of MaaS Global’s closure,” Damian Bown, CEO of Lithuanian MaaS platform Trafi, told Zag Daily. 

“Sampo and his team have done extraordinary service to the mobility industry, encouraging city leaders and transport providers to break down artificial barriers between transport modes and to treat public and private transport providers as a joined-up network and a realistic alternative to just grabbing the car keys for every journey.

“The B2C subscription model of shared mobility that Sampo advocated for so effectively and energetically turned out not to be commercially sustainable at the present time. 

“However, as demonstrated by Jelbi in Berlin, Floya in Brussels and Breeze in the UK’s Solent region, Sampo’s vision of a multimodal travel app, helping travellers find, book, pay and ride across all modes is needed and increasingly widely adopted by cities and passengers. MaaS Global is dead; long live MaaS.”

Chief Revenue Officer Tom Nutley from global micromobility software platform Urban Sharing also pinpoints MaaS Global’s subscription model as an area which let the company down. 

“Bundling services and the cost was always a good idea however it’s not what users really want. They want the flexibility to pick and choose the mode, pay in real-time rather than be tied into a large subscription. If they have a primary mode of transportation then they may want to have a subscription for this and then buy bike, scooter or alternative modes via the app as needed,” Tom told Zag Daily.

“It is of little surprise that MaaS Global announced their bankruptcy yesterday, only that they made it into 2024.”

Tom added: “No one wants to see any company in the mobility ecosystem go-bust but if your business model is focusing on an unattainable nirvana that doesn’t represent the reality of the ecosystem or user behaviour then it’s an inevitability.

“Whim set the vision, built the tech and showed what works and what doesn’t. Unfortunately they have ended up as Nokia and Blockbuster did by not pivoting with the times. Time will tell who will emerge as the Apple of the MaaS market.”

The Whim app operated in Vienna, Antwerp, Helsinki, Turku, Tokyo, and Birmingham in the UK as well as nationwide in Switzerland. 

Zag Daily reached out to MaaS Global for comment but it did not respond before press time. 

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