Cabcharge extends RFID technology to car parks

Cabcharge will begin the rollout of its "windows up" technology in London following a successful trial of the taxi-like payment technology in a Secure Parking car park in Sydney.

Following a successful trial in Sydney, parkIQ in conjunction with Cabcharge will begin rolling out its "windows up" Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) technology in a London shopping centre car park.

According to Cabcharge, the RFID-based technology allows customers to remain in their vehicles with their windows up to enter and exit the car park, as well as have the parking payment processed through an online account linked to their car.

"It's an example of what Cabcharge's highly skilled team of technology experts can create, building on existing systems and delivering innovative solutions that extend beyond the world of the taxi industry," Cabcharge CEO Andrew Skelton said.

Windows up builds on the existing agreement Cabcharge has with Secure Parking, a customer of parkIQ, which sees the payments provider deliver an end-to-end software payment solution, including networking, switching, and security to the parking giant.

"Our in-house payments expertise dates back many years. In recent months, we have considered how new clients can make use of our payments expertise more broadly," Skelton said in April. "There are many applications for payments technology that require a level of focus or security beyond supplying payment terminals to mum-and-pop retailers."

Skelton previously said the agreement with Secure Parking was the company's first electronic payments client outside of the taxi and transport payments industry, in which it now finds itself faced with competition.

In October, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced its intention to disallow a taxi industry joint venture which would see the launch of a new smartphone taxi booking app, ihail, in direct competition to ridesharing service Uber.

Whilst Cabcharge does not own ihail, it holds an approximate 10 percent stake of it and before the ACCC spiked the launch, Cabcharge was to be the payment provider for the ihail app.

At the time, the watchdog said it accepts the ihail app would provide a more convenient way for consumers to book taxi services, but ACCC chairman Rod Sims said it would come at too big a cost to competition.

In June, the ACCC approved a court-enforceable undertaking from Cabcharge Australia to allow third parties to process Cabcharge cards.

"The undertaking opens up this market to further competition, and will provide third parties with the ability to process Cabcharge cards for the first time," Sims said at the time.

"The undertaking provides a clear pathway to facilitate third parties processing Cabcharge cards. If third parties obtain access, this will allow them to better compete against Cabcharge for processing revenue, as Cabcharge will no longer be the only terminal in a taxi that can process all forms of non-cash payment."

According to the Australian Taxi Industry Association (ATIA) [PDF], in 2014, 227 million taxi trips were made Australia-wide, with 97 million of those in NSW alone. The ATIA also found the average taxi licence price in the state was AU$367,000, second in cost only to Queensland at AU$519,000. The average taxi fair in Australia in 2014 was AU$23.97.