Cabcharge is rolling out its new Fairway Plus terminal to taxis across the country and has hired seven new staff to develop apps for the new terminal.

The taxi payment company describes its new touchscreen Fareway Plus terminals as the “next generation of payment solutions”.

The terminal, which looks a little like a large iPhone, offers GPS vehicle tracking and automatic tolling and incorporates a contactless reader for processing Cabcharge payments.

The system will also be able to run apps, such as one that lets drivers know about traffic conditions, the company says.

“Cabcharge has a history of innovation, but in this fast-changing environment we must continue to focus on building a strong and agile team to rise to the challenge. I am confident that our renewed focus and talent within the team will help us expand and strengthen the future of Cabcharge,” said managing director and CEO Andrew Skelton after the seven new staff were hired.

The move comes as Cabcharge faces increased competition from ridesharing app Uber, which has the potential to reduce the number of taxi rides – some 227 million in Australia last year – and from Mint Payments, which has formed an alliance with taxi booking service goCatch.

Mint’s mPOS terminals are pocket-sized card readers which use the taxi driver's smartphone or tablet as an EFTPOS machine and are currently being trialled in a handful of taxis.

“It has become a lot more competitive in a relatively short space of time,” says Daniel Mueller, head of consumer equity research at Morningstar. “Cabcharge itself has been under a lot of regulatory and technological risk and their whole business model is under pressure, and that includes a number of alternate payment methods.”

Cabcharge processed payments worth $1.1 billion last year and Mueller says the taxi payments market is growing strongly. “It’s an attractive market and a lot of these new payment methods are capital light businesses, so it doesn’t require a lot to have a crack,” he says.

In June, Cabcharge gave an undertaking to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission that it would allow other in-taxi payment systems to process its cards.

It resolved a long-running legal battle by the regulator to introduce competition into the taxi card processing sector. Cabcharge originally had a monopoly on the industry, and charged a processing fee that was 10 per cent of the taxi fare, but that has been cut in half in some states and could fall further as competition in the market intensifies.

Responding to the decision, Cabcharge said the payment gateway it was launching to allow third party terminals to process its cards provided a platform for the company to extend its technology beyond its traditional business model.

Cabcharge’s new payment technology team will work across a range of services. As well as in-taxi payments, Cabcharge also provides other payment technologies to third parties. The technology team has designed terminal software for customers’ transactions including Woolworths and Australia Post. It also recently won the contract to develop the technology for card payments for Secure Parking.

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