When horse-drawn taxis first appeared in Europe in the 17th century, those first drivers could have hardly imagined what the taxi industry would look like today.
TaxiFareFinder.com is capitalizing on the latter by enabling consumers to estimate taxi fares online, while also helping taxi services get more business by allowing these companies to be listed on the site. The GoPayment Blog recently asked Ippei Takahashi, the site’s founder, to share his thoughts on how mobile payments are transforming the taxi experience.
What’s the purpose of your website, and how does it work?
Supporting hundreds of cities worldwide, TaxiFareFinder.com is an industry standard for estimating taxi fares. You enter your starting location and destination, and TaxiFareFinder calculates a fare estimate based on local rates. It is very popular among travelers who may be planning their trips or need to verify [the cost of] past taxi rides.
For many travelers and companies, there is an underlying fear of using taxis due to the unknowns. Unlike other modes of transportation, such as a bus or airplane, travelers do not know how much it will cost when entering the vehicle, and calculations can be complex. This can be a nerve-wracking and stressful event, especially in an unfamiliar city. Our mission is to bring familiarity, clarity, and confidence to these travelers. We have mobile apps as well.
How has being able to accept credit cards via mobile devices changed the way that taxi drivers conduct business?
The ability to accept credit cards comes with great benefits to taxi drivers.
First of all, carrying a large sum of cash can be dangerous. By the end of a shift, drivers may have hundreds of dollars in cash, making them a target for thieves. Taxi driving is consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States due to crime, but drivers can mitigate this risk by accepting credit cards and carrying less cash.
Another benefit is to avoid a situation where customers do not have enough cash to pay the fare. This happens more often than you’d think. Since taxi fares can vary depending on unpredictable factors, such as inclement weather and traffic jams, it is not unusual for customers, despite their best intentions, to find themselves lacking funds to pay the full fare. This is becoming more common now that people carry less cash while they travel.
You can imagine how difficult it is to resolve this type of situation. Will they need to drive to the ATM? Will the driver need to wait at the curb until the customer looks for more money in an apartment? With a credit card-based transaction, these embarrassing and inconvenient situations can be avoided easily, giving peace of mind to both drivers and riders.
Are people more likely to take a taxi if they know they can pay for the fare with a credit card?
Absolutely. There is a cloud of mystery for many people when it comes to taxi fares. So many different factors go into a fare calculation, and it’s almost impossible to know exactly how much they will be spending. Having a credit card gives them confidence they’ll be able to pay the entire fare, as well as comfort that they will be protected from fraud or unethical drivers.
Are independent taxi drivers using mobile payments to handle fares?
We hear of more independent cabbies using mobile payment methods. With the availability 28of smartphones and ease in managing the process, it is sure to increase dramatically over the next few years.
What do you think the future holds for mobile payments and taxi services around the world?
The process of using taxis is still very traditional, in a sense that people still pick up their phones to call, dispatchers notify the taxicabs by radio, and payments are exchanged in cash. With the emergence of new technologies, this process is changing significantly.
There are already GPS-enabled mobile apps that are starting to emerge, where taxi riders can request taxis and drivers can accept those requests — all from their smartphones. These “virtual” hails and dispatches will bring great ease and efficiency to how people use taxis. Integrating mobile payments in smartphones can only speed this transition; it is a formula for great success.