A Sydney start-up has thrown the gauntlet down to Cabcharge with a mobile app circumventing the incumbent’s payment system.
“At the moment Cabcharge has it sewn up,” said goCatch co-founder Andrew Campbell. “We’re looking to disintermediate them using smartphone technology."
The app, available on the major mobile platforms, allows customers to book a cab, watch it approach, and then pay using a stored credit card.
In place of the Cabcharge impost of 10 percent on passenger card payments, drivers are charged a merchant fee of 10 percent of the fare, Campbell said.
“Drivers don’t mind paying a small percentage to get good quality jobs,” noted Campbell. “We already have 10,000 drivers signed up.”
The system works by both passengers and drivers downloading a smartphone app. Passenger credit card details are stored using the eWAY payment gateway.
When the passenger arrives at a destination, the driver enters the fare amount. This triggers a notification on the passenger phone. The passenger enters a four digit pin, and the payment is approved.
Campbell said goCatch is also using a social-media-like ranking system for drivers. The rankings — bronze, silver and gold — are designed to encourage drivers to take shorter distance fares.
“The more smaller fares they take, the higher their rank, and then we feed higher value fares through to the gold-star drivers.”
Passengers can also rank drivers according to how good the service is.
goCatch has been bootstrapped by NSW Trade and Investment grant, and the company founders have been mentored by Google, Microsoft and PayPal.
Campbell said the company has been in constant negotiation with Taxi authorities in all states.
He said ultimately he’d like to see goCatch signage joining the Cabcharge signage on the side of cabs, alerting passengers the new payment option is available. “Everything is tightly regulated in the taxi industry,” said Campbell. “Even the signs on the side.”