If you’ve read any magazines lately, you’ve probably seen ads for Square, an attachment that processes credit card transactions on mobile devices, particularly those sold by Apple. The truth is, Square revolutionized point of sale systems by allowing anyone with an iOS or Android smartphone or tablet to offer debit and credit transactions as well as redeeming a promo code or coupon from the same device. After the customer swipes his card, Square stores the information on a server and emails the shopper a receipt. The device also allows anyone to turn their smartphone into a credit card reader, giving garage sales and small, family-run businesses easy access to the most popular payment method in the country. Add to that the fact that Square’s fees are lower than most credit card processing services and it’s easy to see why many merchants would favor Square over any other payment system.
Now riders are going to start seeing Square’s technology in the back of some taxi cabs in New York City. Paying for a taxi ride with a credit card can often be an unwieldy process, if the taxi driver will accept credit at all. For people in NYC who need to be somewhere quickly, performing their transactions by credit is especially important. Square’s pilot program involves installing an iPad with a built-in credit card swiping strip so customers can pay at any point during the trip, sign on the screen and get the receipt through e-mail. This is so much faster than waiting for the paper receipt to print at the end of the trip and signing it before you can leave.
Of course, VeriFone, which is the company that currently does the processing for NYC taxis, isn’t thrilled with this development, fearing that Square will take over the taxi payment business. While VeriFone charges 3.5 percent on its credit card transactions, Square only charges 2.75 percent, meaning taxi drivers are pulling for the Square system to see widespread implementation. However, VeriFone is working on its own system, and it plans to add some features that could make it better. For example, VeriFone wants to allow people to purchase event tickets while in a cab, which could make things faster for people when they arrive at their destinations. Other proposals include adding sponsored games to the VeriFone terminal and incorporating social media tied to locations and destinations.
Square is currently rolling out its iPad point of sale payment systems in 30 cabs in the city, so you probably won’t encounter them right away. But when you do, chances are you’ll appreciate the sleek design, the ability to pay by credit card during the ride, and the fact that the system is silent so you don’t have to listen to any annoying advertisements. But even if you do find a Square system, don’t get too used to it, because there’s a chance the system VeriFone is developing may be the one that is ultimately chosen as the best credit card payment system for riders in New York City taxis.