In the city that never sleeps, there are taxis roaming the streets at all times of the day. There are always taxis stopping at every corner of the street and often holding up traffic. Once, on my way home, there was this taxi that stopped right in front of the bus I was sitting on. The bus honked but the taxi driver didn’t move. The taxi driver was closing a transaction with the passenger. It took about 30 seconds, but 30 seconds is a long time in a fast pace city. So I thought, “How can we speed up money transactions in cabs?”
The idea is to allow the customer to pay with a debit card and have the payment processed instantly on the spot. The goal is to speed up the payment transaction time and implement a central payment processing system for taxis. The user will have an option to select an additional amount for tips. For security purposes, the user will have to punch in a pin number to approve the payment.
Debit Card Interface
The machines will have numeral keys zero to nine, a pre-defined 10%, 15%, and an ‘Other’ tip button, an ‘Enter’, and a ‘Cancel’ button. The pre-defined tip buttons are set for the customer’s convenience.
There will be two debit card readers in the taxi, one in the front passenger seat and one at the back seats. The readers are linked to the taxi meters. The card readers will sync with a central server on a pre-determined period to keep the local card reader database up to date. The sync process can be done with wires or over a wireless network.
Customer enters a taxi. The taxi travels from Point A to Point B. Before arriving Point B, the customer swipes his/her debit card on the machine. The machine now has the card number stored. Once the taxi reaches the destination, the total fare is displayed to the customer. The customer enters the tip amount by pressing the pre-defined 10% button and then enter his/her pin number to approve the transaction. The payment is processed instantly and the customer leaves the cab. No bills, no coins, no hassle.
The debit cards will save time for both the customer and the taxi driver, plus speed up traffic. The taxi drivers in New York City frequently double park on busy streets and block traffic. The debit card system can help speed up the payment transaction times and allow the cab to move with traffic sooner.
The machine will also log detailed information and the information can be access via a website. The taxi driver will be able to get reports on how many customers have ridden over the past day, week, or month, as well as fare earned, average fare, etc. The customers can also get similar reports on his/her number of cab rides over the past week, month, or year, as well as the amount spent, average cost, etc. The website will also allow customers to refill their debit card balance.
The taxi payment system can be integrated with credit card systems to allow more types of payments. This also makes payments more convenient for customers who do not have taxi debit cards.