Easy Taxi takes cash and card, with no surcharge

Cabbies (from left) Lee Chee Beng, Alvin Tan and Armstrong Ho showing the Easy Taxi app on their phones. Easy Taxi's decision not to charge a fee for credit card payments could prove a hit with customers.
Cabbies (from left) Lee Chee Beng, Alvin Tan and Armstrong Ho showing the Easy Taxi app on their phones. Easy Taxi's decision not to charge a fee for credit card payments could prove a hit with customers.ST FILE PHOTO

It absorbs bank fee and costs, instead of passing them on

The maker of a taxi booking app has launched a credit card payment facility that does not charge customers the regular 10 per cent surcharge.

Easy Taxi Singapore, which is behind one of the most popular third-party taxi-booking apps in use here, set up the system last month.

Usually merchants are charged a fee - estimated to be between 1 per cent and 3 per cent - by banks for each credit card transaction. Typically this is passed on to customers and inflated to 10 per cent to cover administrative costs, but Easy Taxi has decided to absorb this.

Its users can save the details of several credit cards in the app, and click any of them to pay for their rides, similar to how they would shop online. Those who want to pay cash can still do so.

Mr Jianggan Li, co-founder and managing director of Easy Taxi Singapore, told The Straits Times: "The credit card payment option provides added convenience and completes the whole taxi booking experience."

The move could prove a hit with customers who have been keen to see the fee axed.

Teacher Kuang Jingkai, 32, said: "No merchant, except taxis, levies a surcharge for credit card payment. It takes a third-party app maker to innovate and challenge the traditional thinking of taxi companies."

Ms Shirley Kin, 33, a quality test specialist, gave the new Easy Taxi service the thumbs up. "Right now, I use my credit card only if I have no choice, like when I run out of cash," she said.

Easy Taxi has not ruled out the possibility of levying a "small" surcharge in future, but there are no details yet.

However housewife Sakura Siow, 40, is wary of storing credit card details on websites and in smartphone apps. She asked: "Is it safe?"

Easy Taxi's Mr Li said it works with Amsterdam-based payment services company Adyen to process the credit card transactions. As a licensed acquirer of Visa and MasterCard, Adyen adheres to the card schemes' security standards.

To encourage drivers to accept credit card transactions, Easy Taxi credits the payment directly into taxi drivers' savings accounts one day later.

"How many times have you come across drivers who insist on cash payments or claim their credit card machines have broken down?" Mr Li said.

The only other taxi-booking app that accepts credit card payment, with no surcharge, is uberTAXI, which launched here last month.

But uberTAXI does not let passengers pay cash and charges $2 for cancelling a booking, which no other taxi-booking app does.

Like Easy Taxi, uberTAXI lets users book taxis from any of the seven taxi operators here.

Another popular app, GrabTaxi, said it is reviewing various cashless payment options.

GrabTaxi general manager Lim Kell Jay said that payment settlement with drivers is a major consideration. "They will not accept it if they get their payment more than a day later."

Cabby Susan Quah, 59, concurred. "Cash flow is important for us drivers," she said.

itham@sph.com.sg