20th January 2016

Book on mobile, pay by card: future tech in taxis

As technology evolves, our collective culture evolves with it. Just a few short years ago, touch-screens were a simple dream, WiFi spots were hard to come by and nobody had even heard of a hashtag.

Many cab drivers and firms have stayed relatively low-tech up to now. However, as the world progresses digitally, customers are increasingly looking for more convenient options to make bookings and payments. It’s only a matter of time before standard practices are pushed aside in favour of new tech.

Here we take a look at how the future of technology can affect the future of the public and private hire industry.

Electronic payments

Last year, the number of cashless payments overtook those made using physical money, with 52% of transactions made electronically. Rising use of cards and online transactions have significantly contributed to this figure, along with contactless payments on mobile and recently issued debit cards.

In a survey conducted last October, Transport for London found that support was high for the introduction of card and contactless payments in black cabs. Over the coming months, London’s black cabs will accept these methods alongside cash, leading the way for alternative and convenient payment options throughout the industry.

Analysts are predicting that only one-third of all transactions will involve physical notes and coins by the year 2025. While cash will often be the go-to payment method for fares, taxi and minicab drivers and firms across the country are now looking towards other options to improve passengers’ experience.

Booking apps

One of the key aspects of current technological advances is to make things easier and more convenient for customers. If there’s one thing the controversial Uber has proven, it’s that there’s definitely a market for passengers wanting to hire cabs through a mobile app.

Building on this idea, many more apps for trusted taxi drivers and minicab firms have launched in the last two years. Whether it’s a case of hailing a nearby taxi or finding the local cab office, giving customers the chance to book using a smartphone app looks like it could become a common occurrence over the coming years.

Whilst apps like Hailo, Gett and Kabbee allow city-goers to find a licensed taxi, services are currently restricted to selected locations like London and Manchester. Plans to expand further across the country are already in motion, but it could be a while before app bookings start to make a noticeable impact.

It’s difficult to say exactly how the industry will be affected by evolving technologies, as we’re still right at the beginning of some big – but gradual – changes. Ultimately, catering to customers and their shifting habits is what will end up shaping the future.

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