GrabTaxi's cashless payment system does have its appeal, but will it take hold?

Charlene  |  Singapore
Published 2015-02-12 16:59:22

There’s always that moment of self-doubt that arises as you board a taxi: Do I have enough cash? Will this taxi uncle accept credit card or NETS?

To combat this, third-party taxi-booking app Uber has long been implementing a cashless payment system where passengers must provide their credit card details when signing up with the app. The whole transaction — from the time a passenger makes a booking, to the moment he/she leaves the cab — then becomes a convenient, cashless one, since taxi fares can simply be deducted via credit card later on.

And now, GrabTaxi — an app available for use mainly in Southeast Asia — is set to compete with Uber directly in the cashless payment department. Earlier this afternoon, TechCrunch reported that passengers using GrabTaxi will be able to pay by credit card if they wish to do so, though cash payments will still be an optional mode of payment.

Image Credit: TechCrunch

This development will be rolled out within the next couple of months, beginning with a beta testing phase in Singapore in March (it’s not known when or if it will be made available in the rest of Southeast Asia). GrabTaxi tied up with DBS PlayLah in Singapore earlier this year to get a sense of what the reception would be like were they to introduce a cashless payment system.

According to TechCrunch, however, GrabTaxi’s latest development is unrelated to its previous partnership with DBS.

I, for one, am looking forward to this new development. I could see it being a lifesaver, especially when i’m running late for appointments — no more awkward silences while I dig around in my wallet for spare change, or waiting for taxi uncles to return me the change.

That said, I’m not convinced that this development will take hold in Singapore: many merchants — taxi drivers included — are still resistant to the idea of credit card payments, as credit card companies take a cut of the payment in order to process the transactions. So rather than a more convenient mode of payment, I’d expect a fair number of taxi drivers to request cash payments instead.

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