What does the end of cash mean for the UK’s taxi fleets?
A version of this article appeared in the May 2021 edition of the Private Hire and Taxi Magazine (PHTM)
As the nation begins to emerge from lockdown, taxi fleets up and down the country are cheering the return of customers to hospitality venues, travel and other activities. One thing we have consistently heard from CabCard customers is the almost complete absence of cash.
A new report by the consultancy Enryo highlights the rapid decline of cash. As the report says, “2020 represented a step change in the total volume of cash transactions. We estimate that around 3.4bn cash transactions took place in 2020, much lower than the 6.2bn we were expecting and the 7.2bn made in 2019… This reduction pushes cash much further along its journey of decline. Taking the forecast from UK Finance as a guide, combined with our analysis, cash was used in 2020 at the level expected towards the end of the decade.”
Although card payments were increasingly displacing cash before the pandemic, it seems Covid has all but eliminated cash from our wallets. This has important implications for taxi fleets and their drivers.
First, it’s now abundantly clear that every taxi fleet needs to offer contactless card payments in every vehicle. It’s the familiarity, convenience and security that customers demand. By not doing so, you’re turning customers away and sending them to your competitors.
Second, taxi fleets must be alive to the possibility of an increased cost of doing business. While handling cash always carried some cost, it may not always have been felt. As cash is displaced, any taxi operation with an expensive supplier will be feeling the pinch. Many point of sale terminals in the UK have traditionally been sold by ISOs (Independent Sales Organisations), which can often be comparatively expensive deals because customers end up dealing with multiple parties. For example, you might end up with a contract for terminal leases, another for support and maintenance, another for gateway access and yet another for your transaction acquiring activity. This is not always obvious up front, but becomes painfully clear as your transaction costs rise during the lifetime of your contract.
One of the most common reasons we hear from customers who switch to CabCard is the desire to have a single, low-cost provider handle everything for you, including point of sale and online transactions, support and hardware. In addition, CabCard makes it possible for your drivers to pay for their own processing fees, eliminating card processing costs for the fleet operator.
Third, taxi businesses must take care about the flow of funds in their business. The recent ruling of the U.K. Supreme Court on the employment status of Uber drivers has highlighted that it is important taxi fleets can demonstrate the self-employed status of their drivers, in order to avoid any confusion over liability for VAT, holiday and sick pay among other issues. This explains the popularity of CabCard’s option to have fares paid directly to drivers’ bank accounts, ensuring that the flow of funds is clear, processing fees can be paid by drivers themselves, administration cost is significantly reduced and the fleet operator remains in control of all transaction activity.
Finally, it’s more important than ever for taxi fleets to keep a close eye on the latest in payment technology. CabCard has recently announced the launch of CabCard Go, a highly innovative solution that lets you turn an Android phone into a contactless payment terminal simply by downloading an app. We’re excited about the possibilities that this opens up for our customers, and we invite you to register for early access on our website.
For more information about CabCard Go, please visit cabcard.services/go