However, the opportunity for apps is huge- right now there's just a dumb TV terminal in the cab that plays the same horrible videos over and over. I've been working on a taxi-based app (http://www.taxono.my/ - I'll stop mentioning it in every post I make soon) that would go fantastically into a Square-attached tablet. But I'm not sure what they'll allow and what they won't, at this point. I imagine there might be a hefty fee involved...
We combined 16:9 screen, ATM keys, tap-and-go card reader, and traditional card stripe swipe, into a self contained unit mounted into the safety panel.
You could mute it (of course). It played a safety PSA, then let you figuratively "change the channel" to show you up-to-date video clips per your interest -- sports, news, weather, broadway promos, etc. -- or a GPS map of the cab's location in the city. A key innovation let us update the videos on the fly in all the cabs without requiring a SD card swap or a cellular data charge.
Great backers, but project got killed in a TLC political maneuver. It's a challenging industry to try to break into and try to change. The devices you see deployed in Vegas, Chicago, and NYC, are mostly hamstrung in various ways that often cost the cabbies or annoy riders. It's disappointing to see, but if someone can muster both the tech and the political clout, it's still ripe for disruption.
Square might have that chance.
There were about a half dozen "competing" systems (hardware and business model) at the time. A couple of the others got adopted and their progeny are what you see in cabs in NYC now. We were backed by some of the best known finance, ad, and government money, but the decision was neither technical nor based on cost to cab owners or even cost to fleets.
As I said, I hope Square can disrupt that situation.
Why isn't the TLC just negotiating for lower fees from the payment processors? Perhaps I'm missing something...
[Sidenote]: LOVE using Google Wallet on my Galaxy Nexus to pay for cabs (they're all equipped with PayPass), very much hoping that Apple will jump on NFC, making it ubiquitous. If there is an opportunity for apps, my guess is that we will see more development around payments via NFC (untog's app would integrate nicely with some payment info). Carrying around cards will hopefully seem old school, similar to how paper checks are now (still need them, but they won't go extinct too quickly).
This sort of reminds me of the massive pizza delivery discovered in the embezzlement business that someone mentioned earlier when a shop in Ohio installed a PoS system to track transactions.
A large number of taxi owners / drivers are trying to offer better services through modern tech such as guaranteed books via phone apps and different payment systems. Due to regulatory capture the owners and drivers are been hassled.
Currently, if you install non-cabcharge payment facilities you have trouble with your insurance. Yes, the same people control the booking system, insurance and most other 'operational' aspects of the Sydney taxi industry.
I've also noticed in general that cabbies simply don't like credit card customers.
Fortunately, the city requires the vast majority of cabs to be able to take credit to be allowed to pick up a fare. It's amazing how many times reminding the driver about this has made the machine start working...
Still, the that fact that out of three recent cab rides, the two trips involving credit cards were both paid for using Square is an impressive sign.
As noted by others in this thread, drivers here regularly try to use the "machine is broken" tactic, despite the law. If Square's existence makes taking credit cards sufficiently easier for drivers then cab riders will directly benefit.
I asked him about it and he said it was personal and he had not seen any other drivers using one. It's non-sensical and as an earlier poster noted, also a bit of a political issue, since the existing terminals force the driver to pay 6% versus 2.75%, with no ad revenue sharing. I talk to the drivers here in Boston quite often, and they have no choice on the terminals they have in the cars. One would think that if drivers are forced to accept credit cards, they should at least have the option of choosing a vendor.
Could you elaborate on this? I'm in Chicago and have had cab drivers claim the same thing (about the CC machine being broken)
*I believe this only applies to fleet cabs (not independents), but that's virtually all of them anyway.
Note: 2am so I'm not going to look up the specifics right now, but if you want to know more, feel free to email me (in my profile).
The Times also reported that the fact that cabs have cards - and livery cars do not - may have helped the taxi industry while hurting the private car business.
I'm much more willing to catch a cab in NYC than I am in Chicago or Milwaukee, because I usually don't carry enough cash for a ride and I'm usually not in the mood to squabble with the driver. I swear, I can usually walk to my destination in the time it takes to watch a Chicago cabbie pantomime with the card reader in an effort to convince me it's broken.
And in NYC they have to pay city income tax on top of all that.
(If the cabbie incorporates and maintains a business bank account and payrolls himself and files taxes correctly, he'll only be paying 15-25% on some fares. I'd be surprised if any significant number of cabbies bothered with this.)
Credit cards leave a trace and are taxable. Cash, not so much.
In Chicago cabs are essentially required to accept credit cards if they want to pick up a fare (there's an exception for the handful of independent cab's in the city).
I don't take cabs all that often (4-5 times a month) but I have had a driver resist taking the credit card at least 20% of the time, and within that subset well over half use the 'broken machine' excuse.
Of course it always seems to work once I tell them "it's credit, or I don't pay"...
In all honesty, though, I've never had that happen once.
Otherwise, adoption and success would fare poorly - Square don't sound like they're desperate or stupid.