New phone-based Taxi payment service launches

Passengers can book and pay using their mobile

Taxis.net.au has launched a new service which allows passengers to book and pay for taxi trips using a 3G-enabled mobile phone, PDA, Blackberry or via a PC Web browser.

With the browser-based service, registered users can select their preferred taxi service, preferred driver, pick up time, favourite pick up and drop off points and even the route taken.

Registered cab drivers can also use the service to view and accept available jobs. Once a job is selected, the service alerts the customer of the job confirmation, driver name and cab details.

Payment is made by choosing one of a number of payment options selected when the user first registers. Once made, both the driver and passenger receive confirmation of the payment.

Michael Jools, director of the Taxi Drivers' Association, said the new application, designed to crack Cabcharge’s dominance over the cab payment market, was no harder to use than the current EFTPOS and Cabcharge systems in use by taxi drivers.

“Every other system needs a device, printer and terminal, where this the driver and passenger’s own 3G phones” he said. “Just about everyone who catches cabs has a 3G phone or a Blackberry, and there is no software, so doesn’t need downloading.”

Being designed for use on mobile devices, rather than broadband enabled PCs, the time needed to book a cab, and pay for a journey, would not be inhibiting factors to the service’s adoption by passengers, Jools said.

“The process is virtually 10 seconds as the Web site has been designed to be functional, not for its looks,” he claimed. “Each Web page is less than 10Kb on average.”

Taxis.net.au had also sought to build security into the system based on the company’s experience as cab drivers, Jools said.

“For example, only a trip which has been authorised by a user can get onto a system so the driver cannot dummy a fair,” he said.

“Money for a fair also can only go to a cab driver’s nominated bank account; it can’t be used for buying extra items at service stations and the like.”

Jools said the company has also partnered with IP Payments and Bankwest for secure transactions.

“Drivers also need to prove they are a cab driver, have a taxi authority, and have the money go into a bank account to become registered users. We’re making sure we don’t get Gypsies into the system.”

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