Earlier in the week Square released an update to its mobile payment app that runs natively on the iPad, but now Square is poised to take on an entirely different ecosystem: the NYC taxi. After lengthy preparation, Square is now ready to roll out new iPad-specific hardware that will allow the rider to pay by credit card at any point in the ride, a convenience that should benefit both the passenger and the taxi driver. The new paperless system will start modestly, with placement in about 30 NYC taxis. Passengers sign with a finger, then receive a receipt via email or text.
Square had to think outside the box (or is it outside the square?) to get their technology into NYC taxis. City regulations prevented taxi drivers from simply attaching Squares reader to an iPhone to accept payment, as they have done in San Francisco, where Square has its headquarters.
“The traditional Square set-up wasn’t possible there,” explained Megan Quinn, Square’s Director of Product, referring to New York. “So we started working closely with the New York City Taxi Commission to improve the experience.”
Square and the Taxi Commission spent over a year in collaboration on the project, known internally at Square as “Checker.” The end product is an iPad fitted in a black metal sleeve with a built-in credit card reader that Square outfitted specifically for NYC taxi drivers.
With its new hardware Square aims to improve the transport experience for drivers and passengers. Drivers will get paid the next day instead of waiting around a month as they do with their current system. Drivers will also pay a 2.75 percent fee, which is lower than the 5 percent fee they pay currently when accepting a credit card payment.
As Ms. Quinn explains, “The ability to pay at any point in the taxi ride is really important because it enables drivers to pick up more fares, faster.”
The iPads will replace taxi’s current TV sets, and what’s more, passengers will be able to use the iPad during the ride. In transit iPad access is sure to please users. With an iPad for company, some riders might not even mind getting stuck in traffic.
[via The New York Times]