Metro Tech

Coming Soon to a Taxi Near You: Square Wants to Replace Taxi TVs with iPads and Apps

square app Coming Soon to a Taxi Near You: Square Wants to Replace Taxi TVs with iPads and AppsWhat if instead of a squawking box, capable only of blaring at you from the partition, Taxi TVs looked more like your smartphone and came stocked with apps like Foursquare? Square, the mobile payment company headed by Jack Dorsey, is trying again with a daring proposal for the Taxi and Limousine Commission: a pilot program that would replace Taxi TVs in 50 cabs with iPads or other tablets.

TLC chairman David Yassky said the tablets would also enable the commission to test out Square’s mobile payment technology “and swipe a credit card at any point in the trip,” reports the New York Times. It should come as no surprise to Brooklyn-dwellers who’ve to had to promise to pay cash in order to get back from Manhattan, but the current credit card system, controlled by Verifone and Creative Mobile Technologies, is hard on cabdrivers, who have to eat the fee for the transaction. With Square, there’s a chance to push down the price of transactions.

The future may be closer than you think as Square is making a presentation to the commission on March 1st. The presentation was initially scheduled for January 19th, but general counsel for Creative Mobile Technologies wrote in to ask the commission to delay a vote.  Creative Mobile suggested, as other Square rivals have in the past, that Mr. Dorsey’s technology may put rider’s information at risk.

However, as Square told the Times, its payment system is processing more than than $2 billion in annual transactions and already employed by taxi drivers, who attach the Square dongle to their headphone jack in their smartphone, in cities like Baltimore, Portland, San Francisco, and more.

Switching over to tablets also reduces the chance over backseat divisiveness when one passengers wants the Taxi TV on and the other can’t stand it. For the record, Betabeat is squarely (forgive us) in the latter camp.

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