Verifone launches acoustic payments in Philadelphia


POS maker Verifone has expanded its Way2Ride mobile payments service to Philadelphia, allowing taxi users in the US city to pay for their journey using a sound-based proximity mobile communications technology.

Way2Ride works in conjunction with Verifone’s existing Taxi-TV service and uses an acoustic communications technology called Zoosh. This was originally developed by US startup Naratte and is now owned by Verifone.

The acoustic payments service is available in 1,400 of the 1,600 taxi cabs currently operating in the city as well as 11,000 yellow taxis and green ‘borough taxis’ in New York. Since the launch in New York in October 2013, the service has been used to complete more than 500,000 mobile transactions, Verifone says.

To use the service, taxi users download the Way2Ride app for iOS or Android and link the debit and credit cards they wish to use. When they get into a cab, they launch the app and tap their phone against the TV screen in the back of the taxi to check in. American Express cardholders can also use Membership Rewards points to pay for their fare.

“Taxis using the Taxi-TV service come with a screen and speakers,” Jason Gross, vice president of strategy and marketing at Verifone Media, told NFC World+ when the service launched in New York.

“The speakers inside the taxi transmit a unique code to the microphone of the user’s phone and our cloud-based platform pairs the taxi and smartphone together. The payment is then processed in the cloud.”

Digital receipts are stored in the app and accessible for users to tag at, making it easier to claim expenses for business trips. The app also lets users preset preferred tip amounts.

A video produced by Verifone shows the service in action:

“We look at Zoosh technology as a companion to NFC, because we know not all smartphones and terminals have NFC at the moment, especially here in the US,” Gross explained.

“What we have done is create a consumer behaviour of tapping a phone to a device, which is the screen of the taxi in this case, in the hope of training the customer to tap their phone when making a payment.

“The consumer experience should be simple; you shouldn’t care about what technology is being used, whether it is NFC, Zoosh or something different.”

Verifone says it now aims to expand Way2ride throughout its network of more than 70,000 payment-enabled taxis worldwide.