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VeriFone taxi app follows strong New York run with Philadelphia debut

VeriFone Systems Inc. is expanding its Way2ride taxi-fare application to Philadelphia on the back of an impressive New York tryout, which saw the app used to complete more than 500,000 mobile transactions since October.

By using the free sound-based app for iOS or Android-supported phones, passengers in 1,400 of Philadelphia’s 1,600 taxi cabs can pre-load payment information and preferred tip amounts and pay for rides. The app’s strong New York results reflect the public’s demand for the mobile-payment option, even as infrastructure issues have been seen as slowing wider adoption in large cities.

“We’ve seen steady growth in downloads and usage in New York over the first eight months, and the response from drivers, passengers and the city itself has been terrific,” said Jason Gross, vice president of strategy and marketing for VeriFone Media, a division of San Jose, CA-based VeriFone.

“The frequency of ridership as well as the expressed payment preference among riders indicate a high likelihood of success,” he said. “The one question we get most often from users in New York is ‘when is Way2ride going to be available in all taxis?’”

New York tryout
Since the app began its New York run in October, riders have tapped and paid for cab fares in more than 11,000 taxis in the Big Apple.

The app can be downloaded from the App Store, Google Play or Once passengers sign up, they can receive and store emailed digital receipts on the app and online portal for easy access and expensing of business trips, according to the company.

After the Philadelphia launch, VeriFone will continue expanding the app across a network of more than 70,000 payment-enabled taxis worldwide, it said. A selling point is the app’s foundation on VeriFone’s open API cloud platform, allowing developers to create apps with secure payment, messaging and other value-added services tied into VeriFone’s secure mobile commerce network, the company said.

Slow adoption
Despite the benefits and demand, many public transportation systems have not yet adopted mobile. In some large cities, aligning mobile carriers, public-transport administrators and politicians in the embrace of mobile has slowed wide fare-app adoption (see story).

Transitioning public transportation to mobile requires a lot of manpower, time and money. Public services like transportation also tend to take longer to adopt new technology than privately owned merchants and retailers. Part of the reason is public transportation agencies tend to be conservative when it comes to taking risks.

The longstanding New York-Philadelphia link and the availability of the technology in the bulk of Philadelphia’s taxi fleet suggested the app would be successful in the Pennsylvania city. “While we are working with the other technology providers in New York to ‘turn on’ Way2ride in their taxis, in Philadelphia, almost 90 percent of the taxis are already equipped with VeriFone’s latest systems,” Mr. Gross said.

“Combining that with the amount of travel between the two markets and the strong support of the Philadelphia Parking Authority and local dispatchers, Philadelphia seemed a logical place for our first expansion. “

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter with Mobile Commerce Daily, New York