The payment prognosis

By Torsten Brose | Business Development Director | Magenta Technology

If you live in the city and use taxis regularly, it’s pretty likely that you haven’t called a company recently to order a cab or even spoken to anyone about cabs. For myself and most people I know in London, booking a cab on the phone and paying cash are concepts that simply vanished in mid-2010.

I can’t for the life of me imagine why anyone would waste time ringing a cab company and then going to the cash point to get cash out to pay for the cab and mess about with change. There are so many good apps that are simple and easy to use, convenient and cheap, that phoning and carrying cash seems archaic in comparison.

Having spent most of my working life around cab companies, I completely accept that I’m still in the minority and, despite a huge rise in online payment for purchases becoming the norm, booking and paying for cabs is still miles behind in the payment revolution.

Other quirks that show little signs of change are people booking from home phones (who even has one of these?), groups going out for the night who save money from the evening in order to pay the cab driver in cash when they get home, and, finally, people calling the same cab company under different trading names to save 50p on their night out booking … all still pretty common.

I guess cabs are seen as a necessary evil on a night out and a service to be cut to the bone where possible. But it still surprises me that, despite offering numerous payment options to customers, including chip and pin (just like a shop), a large number of passengers still prefer to use cash.

One of the first questions we often get asked by potential customers is: What is your passenger app like? Of course it’s great; it needs to be, as it’s the shop window sales item. However, often those same companies have very low take-up rates of app bookings.

We will continue to invest heavily in our apps and payment options, but I think it will be some time yet before the general public is happy to treat our booking and payment service on a par with other industries.

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