No cash? No problem

Published: Sunday | July 22, 2012 Comments 0
A transaction is conducted inside the vehicle, using the POS terminal - photo by Chad Bryan.
A transaction is conducted inside the vehicle, using the POS terminal - photo by Chad Bryan.
Robert Hamilton, who uses a point of sale terminal in his taxi.
Robert Hamilton, who uses a point of sale terminal in his taxi.

Taxi operator uses point of sales terminal in vehicle

Chad Bryan, Gleaner Writer

There came a point when taxi operator Robert Hamilton grew tired of being taken for a ride to collect his fare after the ride he was hired to provide was over.

"People would have me drive up and down to get money at an ATM and that would be costly for both of us. If you choose to lose more than you gain, then it won't make sense," he told Automotives.

Already the operator of a cooking gas business, Hamilton decided to get a portable point of sale (POS) terminal for his taxi operation, so he could collect via cards. In addition, it would also facilitate the gas delivery business.

However, he had to convince sceptic bank staff first. Hamilton, already a National Commercial Bank (NCB) account holder, went to the NCB Card Centre on Oxford Road, New Kingston, to apply for the terminal. The staff initially expressed shock at the idea of providing the device for Hamilton's gas delivery service, let alone taxi business.

"I encountered a problem. I wanted the portable device but they wanted to see a desk. I explained to them and finally somebody got it," he said. And he got the device, which he began utilising in March. The NCB staff ran a demonstration and he was also given a manual. Hamilton can now collect fares via debit, credit and Visa cards, the last facilitating persons with US and Canadian accounts.

recharging

The machine uses a rechargeable battery which plugs into a wall outlet or the cigarette lighter socket of his vehicle, with the help of a converter. While the service is appreciated, not enough persons are aware of it.

"People love the service and they call me for it. However, there are not many people who know about it. Whenever someone takes my taxi they are often shocked to see me with it," he said. Going cashless has its security benefits, in addition to being more efficient. "It's safe, convenient and people do not need to jump out of a taxi to get money; all they need to do is swipe and go," Hamilton said.

Safety goes two ways, for driver and passenger. The money is sent straight to Hamilton's account and the customer avoids exposing cash to potential thieves.

The POS-equipped taxi has naturally got a strong reaction from persons who have seen it. Some of the comments, an excited Hamilton recalls, are, "It mad", "It's off the chain", "You're the first taxi man I've ever seen with this", "You're a real businessman".

He has not experienced many problems with the device, but noted that in some buildings there are connection problems (similar to a cellphone), but these occurrences are few and far between.

Hamilton is hopeful that his taxi business will now become even more successful and more people will call him or the company he is aligned with, Express, requesting his services.

While a taxi with a POS machine is novel to Jamaica it is not unique. In Davao City, Philippines, a deal brokered with China Bank, BancNet and Mabuhay Taxi, one of the biggest and oldest taxi fleet operators in the city, now allows the drivers to collect via debit and credit cards. Soon, over 200 units of the Mabuhay Taxi Company will be equipped with wireless POS terminals.

In Azerbaijan's capital, Baku, the Baku Taxi Company has begun installing POS terminals in at least 500 of its cabs, courtesy of the Bank of Azerbaijan.


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