VeriFone is targeting a wide range of markets for its taxi and merchant applications.

The company has reached an agreement with Bharti Airtel Group to offer VeriFone's merchant enablement technology for mobile money services, a popular way of introducing financial services in Africa. Separately, VeriFone plans to extend its taxi and media services business to Istanbul in Turkey and the Riviera Maya in Mexico.

"As mobile devices become a major driver of commerce, it's part of our strategy to provide mobility for merchants in all locations," said Jason Gross, vice president of strategy and marketing for VeriFone Media. "If people want to pay with cards, or if it's an app or [Near Field Communication], we want to be the go-to guys."

VeriFone's taxi deployments are planned to start next year, and will include a mix of mobile payments, mobile hailing and booking, and interactive media that can be viewed during taxi rides. In Istanbul, about 18,000 licensed taxis will use the services, while the Mexican deployment covers more than 3,000 taxis in Cancun and Playa Del Carmen.

"These are tourist-driven economies, so these locations are bringing in consumers from around the world that have come to expect these types of services," Gross said.

The taxis will use the Way2ride mobile payment app, driver-facing tablets and the VeriFone Digital Network to deliver content. VeriFone plans to focus initially on payments and ordering, with marketing and other content added later. Way2Ride uses Zoosh, VeriFone's sound-based mobile technology, to check passengers into cabs and transmit encrypted payment information. Zoosh communicates through the use of signals that can be picked up by the microphones in consumers' smartphones.

"Taxis are a good fit for mobile, it's not a pure-play wallet where there's an app for payments. With taxis, it's an app that provides value that's in the context of transportation," said Gross.

VeriFone has deployed Way2Ride in New York and Philadelphia, and a white-label hailing and booking service for car fleets in Miami and Washington, D.C.  The company is also working on combining its hailing, ordering and payment technologies into a single taxi platform, Gross said. VeriFone has additionally worked with American Express on a taxi fare reward program.

In its separate deployment in Africa, VeriFone's "tap and pay" technology will power Bharti Airtel Group's mobile money program for 17 companies on the continent. The offering will include mobile point of sale, biometrics for international remittance and other merchant services. It will support payments from mobile wallets, contactless and EMV cards.

Buoyed by the success of Vodafone and Safaricom's MPESA, a number of companies have invested in mobile money as a way to introduce broader payments and financial services in Africa and other emerging markets. These efforts take advantage of a large penetration of mobile phones compared to scant availability of traditional financial services infrastructure.

"A lot of technology companies are engaging in a 'leapfrog' in terms of expansion and adoption," Gross said.

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