Although cash has always been the usual method of payment for London’s famous black cabs, from October 2016 you will be able to take a ride in any of the approximately 22’500 licensed iconic vehicles and pay using your credit or debit card.
As of early 2016, only around 50% of black cabs have the technology in place to accept card payments, but a recent consultation has led to this becoming a binding requirement from October 2016.
Cards the preferred way to pay
Despite the investment expense of a terminal, this is good news for taxi drivers who might finally shake some of the pressure from major competitor Uber, which uses credit or debit card details linked to the app to take payment; thereby already offering a cashless taxi service.
In a survey by Transport for London, 85% of passengers said that they would be likely to pay for taxi journeys by credit or debit card if the option was provided.
Terminals have to meet TfL requirements
Taxi drivers need to be aware that not just any card terminal will do. For starters, the terminal has to be able to accept contactless cards on top of Chip and swipe. The customer should not have to hand over the card to the driver, meaning that the card reader needs to be mounted in the passenger compartment of the cab. Receipts are not optional – the terminal needs to be connected to a fixed wireless printer in the driver’s compartment of the car.
Different options in the marketplace
Several companies are working with Transport of London to develop solutions that would meet the requirements. Global payment company Verifone has a dedicated taxi solution centre in Kennington which provides taxi payment solutions, taximeters and digital tops mounted on the roof of taxis with digital ads. Verifone offers a package for £299 which includes a terminal with a sim card and built-in printer. There is no monthly fee, but a transaction rate of 3.25%.
TaxiPay by Adelante is another provider that is adjusting its offerings to meet the TfL requirements. TaxiPay’s app for payments which required the driver to enter the card details manually will no longer be a valid payment option. With a fee of 6.5% it was also not a cost effective solution for drivers or – in the case where the cost was past on – the passenger.
Swedish mPOS pioneer iZettle is preparing a bundle with its Contactless Pro terminal, a printer and a terminal mount for £299. The rate starts at 2.75% and drops to 1.5% for high volume users.
Overall good news for Londoners and cab drivers alike
Not only will the ability to pay by card make transport around the capital easier and more accessible than ever before, but it will put the taxi trade firmly back in line with the other methods of transportation around the city such as buses and the tube which already accept contactless payment cards. Even better; there will be no additional fees for choosing to pay by card, meaning that passengers will only ever be charged the price that is on the meter regardless of which payment method they choose.
Travelling around the capital city is set to get a whole lot easier!