The experience of using taxis is changing rapidly. In the most advanced cities of the world, people are no longer ordering taxis by phone, and payments are not just made by cash. Though the idea of mobile payments has been extensively discussed for years, the use of this technology is still relatively new in many countries, while smartphone penetration shapes societies and consumer habits.
Mobile internet has been enormously changing consumer behaviour and the way non-digital businesses operate. There are already GPS-enabled smartphone apps that are starting to take off, allowing users to request taxis and drivers to accept these requests in an instant. These ‘digital’ requests and dispatches will bring great optimisation to how people use taxis in the future. Integrating mobile payments in smartphones is actually speeding up this process. However this disruptive journey will be hard and long.
Nowadays, technology companies attempting to break into the taxi market are facing setbacks when dealing with regulations inspired in a 20th century political environment. Apps that allow users to request and pay for cabbies via their smartphones have emerged in many cities in Europe, Latam, US and Asia.
There are a variety of factors driving the success of taxi apps within cities: crazy traffic, insecurity on the streets and high demand for taxis in rush hours. Other factors have to do with to be “cool” and values like convinience, quality, and transparency.
Technology continues to transform the industry, as taxi companies begin to accept mobile payments. The ability to accept mobile payments through taxi apps comes with great benefits to taxi drivers. Drivers may avoid risks by accepting and carrying less cash. With mobile payment transactions, inconvenient situations can be easily avoided, providing an efficient and effective experience to both drivers and riders. The mobile payments system is incredibly easy. During the taxi trip, the smartphone synchronises with the taxi’s payment system and at the end of the ride the entire transaction is managed on the smartphone, including tip and email receipt.
More and more independent taxis are using mobile payment methods. With the globalisation of smartphones it is sure that this tendency will increase dramatically over the next few years. For instance, mobile internet payments in China almost quadrupled between the first half of 2012 and 2013 to Rmb130bn, according to reputable consultant iResearch.
There are many examples of these taxi-hailing apps shaping consumer behaviour around the world:
#mytaxi app (www.mytaxi.com) is the biggest taxi app in the world, with the largest fleet: 45,000 taxis connected to its network in 6 different countries. mytaxi, the Hamburg-based startup that pioneered mobile applications for booking taxis, launched the first mobile payment system in the German taxi market that enabled passengers to pay for their taxi by smartphone. mytaxi payment is a direct billing process between driver and passenger, smartphone to smartphone, thanks to the help of Paypal and Wirecard. The money is debited from the passenger’s PayPal Account or credit card and input of a personal identification number for the mytaxi app payment system is used for security. Passengers don’t need to remember their credit card number, pay with cash, use near-field communication (NFC), scan Quick Response (QR) codes, or buy additional software or hardware. It was the first taxi app to exist in Spain after revolutionising other markets. Since its arrival, mytaxi app has profoundly changed the way in which passengers order and pay for taxis – it was the first taxi app to introduce mobile payments too, and now 60% of mytaxi trips in Spain (Madrid and Barcelona) are paid this way. mytaxi app mobile payment is the safest in comparison to other apps like Hailo as passengers have a PIN code, so nobody could use their accounts in case of mobile phone loss.
#Didi (owned by Tencent – has operated in China since 2012). Developed by Beijing Orange Technology Co Ltd and launched on Sep 9, 2012, is already being used by more than 3,000 taxi drivers.
#Kuaidi (owned by Alibaba – has operated in China since 2012). Developed by Hangzhou Kuaizhi Technology Co Ltd, the app’s name literally means fast taxi hailing. It is the first taxi app to support payment by Alipay, the online payment platform developed by Alibaba Group. By the end of 2013, Kuaidi had covered more than 40 cities by the end of 2013. According to J.P. Morgan at www.jpmorganmarkets.com Kuaidi processes 110,000 orders on average in a day, taking half of the taxi-hailing app market in Shanghai. Mobile payment penetration in China reaches around 40%.
#EasyTaxi app, a Brazil based company active in markets which include Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, Pakistan, Malaysia and South-Korea.
#Hailo app, provides a way for passengers to request taxis via its mobile app. Hailo app operates in UK, Ireland, US, Japan, Canada and Spain.
#SaferTaxi app operates mainly in Latam.
#GetTaxi app operates in 24 cities around the world – including New York (US) London (UK), Moscow and St. Petersburg (Russia) and Israel. In addition to its consumer offering, GetTaxi is the only car app along with mytaxi. The Taxi app that provides Business Accounts serving corporate clients by all means.
In the end, passengers/consumers will decide the app that best fits their needs because an app is no longer what companies tell the consumer it is- it is what consumers tell each other it is…
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