Metro Tech

Square’s Old School Competitors Really Don’t Want To See iPads and Apps Instead of Taxi TV

What would you rather do in the back of a cab: buy a lottery ticket or play with an iPad?
418px nyc taxis Squares Old School Competitors Really Dont Want To See iPads and Apps Instead of Taxi TV

via Wikimedia

Last week, we told you about an innovative proposal from Square, the mobile payments company run by dashing parallel entrepreneur Jack Dorsey, who is simultaneously employed as the executive chairman of Twitter. Rather than squawking Taxi TVs, which allow consumers to pay by credit card, but force cabdrivers to absorb costly processing fees, Square proposed testing out iPads with apps–and its own cheaper mobile payments system, of course.

Currently, fleets can withhold 5 percent of fares paid by credit card from drivers after a shift to cover the 3.5 percent processing fee and a 1.5 percent bookkepping costs. David S. Yassky, the chairman of the Taxi and Limousine Commission, made no bones about his goal in testing it out: to push down the price of credit card transactions.

Existing vendors Creative Mobile Technologies and Verifone, who maintain a duopoly among yellow cabs, already made a fuss when the idea was raised earlier this year, but now, the Wall Street Journal reports, they’ve muscled their way into the TLC’s pilot program. CMT, Verifone, and Square will all get a chance to test out ways to transform 30 yellow cabs a piece.

Will the old guard actually come up with something new-fangled? That depends if you think buying a lottery ticket is Web 2.0:

“Neither Verifone nor CMT provided details of the new services they might offer, and their proposals weren’t expected to be completed for weeks. But there was a strong hint in the timing of a Verifone corporate announcement on Wednesday: The company, with a partner, is working to offer mobile lottery ticket sales in five states from a variety of locations, including taxicabs and TV screens on gas station pumps.

The company is hoping to expand the offering nationwide, and an executive didn’t rule out New York.”

Let’s hope the prospect of additional lottery ticket sales doesn’t sway the city into thinking this is progress.

Follow Nitasha Tiku on Twitter or via RSS. ntiku@observer.com