VeriFone and Creative Mobile Technologies are collaborating to remove a major barrier for the taxi rider who wants to use a smartphone to pay, but has the wrong app.
"The existing system was good for the early adopters, who know about the technology, but we need to partner with each other to provide a simpler solution so a consumer can get into any taxi and pay with an app," said Jason Gross, vice president of VeriFone taxi and media.
Consumers can use either VeriFone's Way2Ride or CMT's RideLinQ to pay fares, regardless of which app the taxi accepts. For example, a consumer who uses only Way2Ride can pay a driver who accepts only RideLinQ.
CMT and VeriFone debuted their collaboration last week in New York, covering about 20,000 traditional yellow cabs and the relatively newer green cabs that focus on the city's outer boroughs. VeriFone has also integrated with Hailo, a taxi hailing app.
The VeriFone/CMT taxi mobile payment system will expand to other cities based on the rollout schedules of each company. Way2Ride is deployed in New York and Philadelphia, and the San Jose-based VeriFone also recently signed deals to extend the technology to Mexico, Turkey and Africa. The Queens-based CMT, which was formed in 2005 to supply video content to cabs in New York, also has plans to expand RideLinQ to other cities. New York's Taxi and Limousine Commission initially approved both CMT and VeriFone to support mobile payments for New York taxis. Square had earlier run a taxi payment pilot, but halted the test in 2012.
New York's taxi system consists of contractors that are licensed by the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission, rather than large centralized fleets. This structure makes providing mobile payments in the city a unique challenge, Gross said.
"In a lot of cities you call a number for a cab company. Or even if you hail a cab in most cities, it's usually a brand," Gross said. "But in New York it was hard to tell if a taxi accepted one app or another," even though taxis have signs inside cabs that indicate which mobile app to use, he added.
CMT and VeriFone have butted heads in the past, most notably over advertising on terminal screens, though VeriFone said that dispute has been resolved.
The collaboration comes at a time when the traditional taxi industry faces competition from newcomers that make it easier to pay for rides, said Jordan McKee, a senior analyst at 451 Group.
"In the midst of tumultuous times in the taxi industry, incumbents need to think strategically," McKee said. "Startups such as Uber and Lyft are out to each the lunches of not only the taxi cartels, but companies like VeriFone that provide the payment acceptance within those taxis."
By joining forces with RideLinQ, VeriFone bolsters the value of its app, McKee said.
"But still, mobilizing payment acceptance isn't what has made companies like Uber successful, and that's what VeriFone must understand," McKee said. "Uber fundamentally reimagined transportation, with the vision that it's not so much about getting from point A to point B as it is providing an experience."