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Need More Ideas On How To Pay A Taxi Driver In The U.K.?

Not sure how to pay a taxi driver? Whether by bank card or cryptocurrency wallet, there is a single, simple solution. Click here to find out more.

We, humans, are inherently a lazy species. We crave convenience and immediate gratification. We don’t like to wait for things to happen or to make too much effort to make them happen. As long as we can afford to, we spend huge sums of money on making our lives as effortless as possible. Think about the range of kitchen appliances and tools that we take for granted. Not to mention TV dinners and online banking and shopping.  

Getting around is another aspect of everyday life that we tend to go out of our way to make as easy and convenient as we can. In the UK, almost 80% of households own or have fairly direct access to a passenger vehicle. Around a third of households have two or more vehicles. In most of the developed world, the statistics support the same trend.  However, there is always a segment of the population that does not have access to their own on-demand transportation. In the UK this segment is a shade under a quarter of households. This segment of the population relies on public transport, of which taxis are an important component.     

History of U.K. Taxi Services 

Few readers will ever have thought that the concept of taxis has been around for almost four centuries. The iconic London black taxi, or Hackney Carriage, dates back to early in the 17th century. Horses for hire were common at that time. Some historians believe that the Hackney Carriage owes its name to the French term “hacquenée”, meaning “horse suitable for hire”.  

1634 saw the birth of a formal, regulated taxi industry along the lines of what we know today. Captain John Bailey, who regularly accompanied Sir Walter Raleigh on his exploration missions, stationed four carriages at the Maypole in the Strand. The carriage drivers were dressed in livery, and they were bound by a code of conduct. Captain Bailey also set the fares that the drivers were permitted to charge. There was no question, then, about how to pay a taxi driver. Cash was the only valid tender until the late 17th century when checks started becoming popular.   

The regulated carriage industry fell apart though. By the 1760s more than 1,000 carriages were plying their trade. They were known as “Hackney Hell Carts”. It’s probably not too difficult to imagine why. In 1832 the “Cabriolet” was introduced. This was a fast and comfortable 2-seater carriage from France. The carriage became known as a Cab and the driver was a Cabbie. Terms that endure to this day.    

How did lockdown affect the Taxi business? 

Covid-19 hit the taxi industry hard. Very hard. With very few people going to work and the tourism and hospitality sectors almost totally shut down, taxis suddenly found themselves without fares. Many taxi drivers were forced to reduce their working hours. Others just gave up hope and quit.  

The UK government pledged assistance, but this alone was not enough to avert an economic disaster in the industry. As recently as December 2020, taxi drivers’ earnings were still less than 25% of the pre-Covid levels. An estimated 1,000 drivers had quit and 20% of taxis had been removed from service.  

The issue of how to pay a taxi driver also arose. There was a move towards contactless transacting and cash was only accepted at some establishments as long as the exact sum could be tendered. Many taxi operators were caught short and had to rapidly develop capabilities for receiving electronic payments.  

Taxi services are following Uber technology trends 

On a more positive note, Covid-19 has been the catalyst for some major developments in the taxi industry. The flexibility and ease of use of ride-hailing services like Uber were beginning to hurt the more traditional taxi business model.  The most significant differences with Uber’s technology were in waiting time and ease of use. Uber has a very large pool of independent drivers. When you hail a ride, a driver is seldom more than a few minutes away. Unlike taxis, they are not stationed at a specific depot that may be many miles away. 

How to pay a taxi driver is also far more convenient with Uber. User settings allow you to select a variety of payment methods. You can link a credit or debit card, your PayPal account, or a variety of digital wallets.  Of course, you can also always select the cash option. Taxi services have been forced to catch up with these technologies or risk going out of business. Many taxi services now have user-friendly mobile applications that make reservations easier and reduce waiting times. The apps also offer a variety of payment options, so passengers no longer need to carry cash.     

How to pay a taxi driver, expansion of payment methods 

Since the modern advent of digital payments in the 1990s, payment methods have proliferated. From simple charge cards to electronic funds transfers, we have progressed to instant money transfer platforms like PayPal and a host of different digital wallets.   

The shift to electronic forms of payment started gradually but has been gaining momentum all the time. Initially, we were able to make payments by accessing a bank’s website. The connection was wired, most commonly through the fixed telephone line provider. In terms of how to pay a taxi driver, this was just not an option.    

Roll on mobile banking. From the humble beginnings of SMS banking, banks have continued to work towards making banking accessible to everyone, everywhere. Smartphones changed the face of digital banking. Suddenly, almost everyone was carrying a very capable computer in their pocket. Then, in 2011, the Royal Bank of Scotland launched the first fully functional mobile banking application.  

Elly is spreading the mobile POS trend in the U.K. 

In 2017 Eligma Limited was launched. Through Elly.com, which they describe as an AI-based shopping assistant, they provide all existing payment methods on a single device. This is the ultimate convenience. And it is totally mobile. Little wonder that it is revolutionizing POS payments. The UK is no exception. 

For taxi operators, this adds a new dimension to payment flexibility. Customers can use any of their preferred payment methods on the same device no matter where they are. Passengers will never again have to wonder how to pay a taxi driver. Thanks to Elly.