Renting a power bank to charge your phone is huge in China and now it's coming to Europe

  • Belgian startup Naki Power wants to recreate the booming market of phone charging hubs from China in Europe. 
  • The global power bank market size was valued at $17.41 billion in 2019, and is projected to reach $22.34 billion by 2027, registering a CAGR of 3.4% from 2020 to 2027, according to Allied Market Research.
  • "The market in China has been growing like crazy in the past 10 years and I think Europe can be the same," Tim Rucquoi-Berger, Naki Power cofounder and CEO, told Business Insider in an interview. 
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Maintaining phone charge has become a major economy in China, where citizens rely on phone apps to buy food, pay bills, and to get around.

It's estimated that in 2019, the power bank industry had 150 million users in China as bars, restaurants and more host spots for people to charge their phones, permarket research firm Trustdata. Chinese giant Meituan launched a power bank rental service in 2017, quit the market, and is now planning to re-enter as the concept has taken off.

Naki Power, a Belgian startup cofounded by the founders of e-scooter company Circ (which was acquired by US rival Bird), wants to recreate this market in Europe. 

"The market in China has been growing like crazy in the past 10 years and I think Europe can be the same," Tim Rucquoi-Berger, Naki Power founder and CEO, said. "Many Chinese ideas like bike- and scooter-sharing are now prevalent in Europe, the sharing vertical is big business there and phone charging is similar."

Naki offers portable phone chargers which can be picked up from stations for charging on-the-go and then returned when completed.

Rucquoi-Berger previously worked in China for funds including CMIG and Tsing Capital before returning to Europe. 

The global power bank market size was valued at $17.41 billion in 2019, and is projected to reach $22.34 billion by 2027, according to Allied Market Research.

COVID-19 has accelerated the move towards greater adoption, according to Naki Power cofounder Zaccaria Aghemio. 

"People are using their phones more and more rather than paying cash and have to scan QR codes and download new apps all the time," he said.

Naki Power currently operates in a number of European countries, specifically major cities like Brussels, Paris, Madrid, Berlin, and Munich, with further expansion plans in the offing.

"We are on our phones all the time and it's so important to have power," Rucquoi-Berger added. "Europe is so far behind China but the density of bars and restaurants per capita is higher so it's a massive opportunity." 

The company has raised €2.1 million ($2.5 million) to date, with the majority of the funding coming out of the founders' pockets.

Naki plans to raise funds from institutional investors in the 12-plus months after it has sufficiently developed its network and product, Berger said. 

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