DC's taxicabs are getting a little bit cooler with some help from Square - Technical.ly DC

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May 18, 2017 10:10 am

DC’s taxicabs are getting a little bit cooler with some help from Square

Say goodbye to traditional meters.

Goodbye, taxi meters.

(Photo by Flickr user Daniel Lobo, used under a Creative Commons license)

It’s hard being a taxi in the age of Uber. But the D.C. Department of For-Hire Vehicles (DFHV) has a history of trying to find ways to compete with (or at least participate in) the on-demand economy. Anyone remember last year during May’s InnoMAYtion festivities when DFHV announced it would launch an on-demand lunch delivery service? Yeah, we hardly did either.

But, in any case, DFHV is taking a new tact this InnoMAYtion — it is partnering with Square (the mobile payments company cofounded by Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey) to replace all taxi meters with digital payment apps by the end of August.

This will, DFHV says, be a better experience for both drivers and riders.

Drivers will download an “approved” meter app in order to accept payment — these apps are still in development and apparently DFHV is working with a number of developers in order to produce options. Drivers will pay 2.65 percent of their fares to Square in transaction fees — less than they pay now for the traditional meters, DFHV Director Ernest Chrappah told Bloomberg. And these apps, in contrast to traditional meters, will provide GPS tracking and the kind of easy tipping to which customers have become accustomed.

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Riders, on the other hand, will pay much in the same way you might at your local coffee shop. Square’ll even offer digital receipts.

“With the move to an all-digital platform from the legacy taximeter and Square’s payment technology, we’ll be able to provide better service for both our customers and drivers who deserve fair rates and the advanced features they have come to expect in our new digital environment,” Chrappah said in a statement.

D.C. will be the first major U.S. city with a platform like this, Chrappah said.

DFHV is forcing a relatively rapid adoption of the new system — all D.C. taxi drivers must be on one of the new apps by Aug. 31, the Department said. Now we just need those apps to be ready for use…

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