Leveling the on-demand, ride-hailing playing field.
That’s one goal that Verifone’s acquisition of Curb could help achieve.
But it’s also about giving consumers choice.
And of course, for Verifone, growing its share of the taxi market — which started decades ago when its credit card payments terminals became a staple in the backseat of taxi cabs — and enabling payment innovation and eliminating payment friction for consumers.
Verifone announced this week that it has expanded its taxi and car-for-hire electronic hailing (e-hail), payment and media business with the acquisition of Curb. Curb, a business that connects people with rides from professional, insured, and fully-licensed taxi drivers, spans 60 cities and hails rides for more than 100,000 passengers per month.
By acquiring Curb, Verifone will enhance its e-hail and payment app business by using Curb’s technology and expansive driver network across the U.S. Curb’s e-hail app, allowing riders to tap into Web and SMS text-based booking tools that will allow Verifone Taxi Systems to scale its own e-hail offering, giving the company an edge in the industry.
“We find that any opportunity we have to drive innovation allows us to provide a better service than anyone,” Jason Gross, VP of Strategy and Innovation at Verifone, explained in an interview with MPD CEO Karen Webster.
Verifone has already been providing the payment technology cab companies for decades, and through its Way2ride app, it’s already had its hands in the mobile payments space for years. And like the startups in the market today have come to discover, Gross said that consumers really are gravitating to the seamless experience of hailing a cab without having to think about the payment process.
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“What we realized is, as a payments company, that’s a great solution. But as we’ve been evolving into more of a commerce enablement platform, what we saw is that in addition to driving payments, we can actually drive incremental commerce for the taxis. And that really has become a real driving force in the industry with the advent of electronic hailing, or e-hailing as we call it,” Gross said.
Because Curb has been innovating the industry for almost eight years, Verifone saw an opportunity to build a stronger relationship with taxi companies — some of which they already have relationships with, and some that will be new partners. Acquiring Curb also allows Verifone to scoop up its technology, too.
“I think one thing the last few years have proven is that consumers want the ability to get a taxi or some form of transportation with their smartphone,” Gross said. “As a provider of services in the industry, we’ve been working really hard and diligently to provide that service because there’s a lot of benefits to the taxi as a type of vehicle in terms of always a licensed and regulated, professional driver.”
He also said he believes that value of booking an actual taxi has been somewhat overlooked in the consumer crazed ride-hailing market (without naming any actual company names). But in NYC alone, Verifone already has a strong market share by powering over 300,000 trips a day — with 60 percent of those being paid out in credit cards (both in app and in cab).
“We are combining Curb’s booking technology set and geographic footprint with Verifone Taxi Systems’ global presence and expertise in secure payment, and cloud-based dispatch and fleet management tools,” Amos Tamam, Senior Vice President, Global Taxi Systems for Verifone, said in a news release on Oct. 13 when the acquisition was announced.
“This will allow us to continue our push into the growing market for apps that provide riders with the convenience of connecting to professional vehicles and drivers through their mobile phone. We’re now even better equipped to offer convenient, dependable, and secure ride booking tools for the taxi operators, drivers and passengers that, for our 2015 fiscal year, will have participated in more than 180 million trips in Verifone-equipped taxis in the U.S,” he added.
Curb, an Alexandria, Virginia-based company, has partnered with more than 90 cab companies and provides e-hail access to 35,000 cars from a smartphone app that combines hailing and payment. While approximately 40,000 U.S. taxis are equipped with Verifone payment terminals, Curb’s media-enabled payment terminals are installed in approximately 15,000 cars.
“Passengers are looking for the assurance that they are hailing safe, regulated, insured vehicles,” said Sanders Partee, Curb co-founder and president. “Verifone has the geographic reach and critical mass of connected vehicles to ensure that Curb can provide the safest, most reliable rides to consumers looking for an e-hail and mobile payment option.”