Are cashless cabs the way forward?

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Libby James
Merchant Services Expert

Libby James is co-founder, director and an expert in all things merchant services. Libby is the go-to specialist for business with more complex requirements or businesses that are struggling to find a provider that will accept them. Libby is regularly cited in trade, national and international media.

Making cabs cashless

With the news Uber may lose its licence in London in the coming months after Transport for London (TfL) refused to renew its licence, the future of cashless cabs could hang in the balance.

TfL said Uber was not fit to operate in the city because its “approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility.” It has failed to report criminal offences, obtain medical certificates to ensure drivers are fit to work (as is legislation for other cab drivers operating in London) and doesn’t perform driver background checks.

Although its licence hasn’t been renewed, it’s still operating and will be able to do so until it has exhausted all appeals, which could be months yet.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan encouraged TfL to meet with Uber’s new boss Dara Khosrowshahi to discuss the company’s conduct to see if they can agree to new working practices in the capital ahead of the appeals. The two parties met on October 4th and although said the meeting was “constructive,” no agreement was met and the conversations will continue.

But what does this mean for the cashless taxi industry?

Uber was founded in March 2009 in San Francisco and since then the company has gone from strength to strength, expanding in most large cities worldwide. The key to its success has always been accessibility and ease for customers.

Although this business model hasn’t been replicated by other private taxi firms to the same standards, it can be done with a powerful app and the technology for making payments behind it.

Most taxis and black cabs now accept card payments and this is set to increase in coming months. Payments are taken within the car using portable terminals, which come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, work with GPRS (general packet radio service) similar to mobile phones, meaning that payments can be accepted almost anywhere. Card payments can also be taken up front via apps without having to touch your card.

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The roll of apps

Apps are enabling pre-booked taxis and black cabs to take payments before someone even sets foot in the cab, making it a much more efficient way to run business.

Taking payments before the journey has started offers ease for the customer because they don’t need to worry about having cash in their pocket or even their card on them. Booking online also enables them to order a taxi with little notice and minimum planning, resulting in repeat custom once the app is installed.

For taxi drivers, implementing apps for prebooking cabs guarantees they will receive the payment before the passenger is even picked up, although they will have to wait for the taxi firm to then pay them the fare.

Going completely cashless

Some taxi drivers choose to become totally cashless, saving time on visits to the bank to deposit funds and taking the headache out of keeping accounts. Instead they can make use of in-depth transaction statements and in some cases, automated account keeping.

Providing you have a client base, creating an app and installing hardware to accept card payments is relatively straightforward.

The costs are low and with the right provider you can have the reassurance of 24-hour technical support. It’s important to know what costs to expect to ensure you secure a reasonable contract, shop around and compare merchant accounts like for like.

Mobile terminals are normally hired by drivers and this therefore means a low monthly cost will apply. Each card payment that is taken on board will be charged at a percentage rate an although that rate will depend on how the payment is taken and what type of card is being charged, this can be as low as 0.5%.

It is, however, worth bearing in mind that not all account providers are suitable for every business. For example – if you do fewer journeys at a higher cost i.e., airport transfers or chauffeur services, you will require a different account compared to a driver servicing multiple smaller journeys.

Speaking to an impartial expert like Merchant Advice Service will allow you to choose a provider that suits you and your business.

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Libby James

Libby James Co-founded Merchant Advice Service alongside David Bird in 2016. Her finance background, coupled with retail and customer service experience, gave Libby the drive to bring transparency and non-biased advice to the world of merchant services. Having come from the heavily regulated mortgage and insurance industry, Libby found it puzzling that other financial sectors lacked regulation and transparency leaving customers confused and unable to make informed decisions when it came to accepting card payments. This was soon to become Libby’s obsession!

With the help of some of the industry’s best, Libby began to research acquiring banks, complex terminology/regulation, and the problems customers experience within merchant services and payment gateway markets. She spent years on sourcing solutions for complex clients, which previously others were unable to assist with. Libby established relationships with brokers and banks which would soon form the cornerstone of Merchant Advice Service. As a result Libby has been featured in high-profile publications across the web.

Libby is proud to be the entrepreneur’s champion, supporting start-up businesses regularly. Her industry insights can often be found on LinkedIn where she provides free of charge advice and money saving pointers. It’s safe to say she has her finger on the pulse of everything card payments related.

Libby speaks of her experience in founding and running Merchant Advice Service…

‘Merchant Advice Service is one of my greatest achievements to date. We help business owners to overcome card processing issues which can become detrimental to their business. We assist SME’s in finding suitable card payments solutions, helping them create their vision. Each and every day is different, exciting and fore filling. As technology advances I can’t wait to see the way in which the merchant services market advances, and I’m pleased that our business will play a part in educating company owners along the way.’

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