Hailo reports on BLE payments in taxis

Pay with Hailo, a service that uses Apple’s iBeacon technology to let users of the Hailo taxi hailing app pay drivers with their smartphone, is experiencing “steady growth”, Naoise Irwin, the company’s VP of strategic initiatives, has told NFC World+ — and Hailo now plans to roll out the service across its growing international network.


Launched in Ireland and Boston in early September, Pay with Hailo uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology built into drivers’ and passengers’ iPhones to recognise when a passenger is in a Hailo driver’s vehicle and invite them to connect and pay for their ride via a one-click confirmation.

“It’s been super exciting to see how excited customers are about it,” Naoise Irwin, VP of strategic initiatives at Hailo, told NFC World+. “We’re seeing a steady week-over-week growth since we launched and we’re happy with the uptake so far; we see a lot of opportunity to grow this further, particularly as we go into cities where it’s a really strong street hailing environment such as London or New York.”

“Traditionally, our product has been e-hail which is essentially a mobile app-based dispatch system,” Irwin explained. “Basically, what it allows you to do is instead of having to call up a taxi through the phone or hail one off the street, you can open up your smartphone and open an app and it will tell you you can get a taxi in three minutes, and then you can just hit a button that says ‘pick me up here’.

“Then, an offer will go out to nearby drivers in a real-time way. It’s like a real-time market for transport. So, that offer gets sent out and all the drivers nearby will have an app in their car on their own smartphones and they’ll receive offers through their smartphones.”

“We have a seamless payment solution that’s built into the app so when people register their card on file, they can basically step out on the other end of the ride and just get out and go and the driver will just enter the amount.”

“What I just described is our traditional e-hail service but what we just launched is a new solution that we call Pay With Hailo,” Irwin continued. “Basically, what that solution does is it lets you step into a taxi on a street or at a rank say in an airport or at the train station or wherever, and you can just get in that taxi without having had to e-hail it and then you can connect to the driver app using your Hailo app and basically, you can find your driver through the interface,” Irwin explained.

“You select that driver and you basically pair with the driver app all through GPS and then you can pay for your ride in the normal way that you would pay for an e-hail ride.”

“Right now we’re content to just have it be, essentially, on the driver’s side, iPhone-based,” Irwin added. “We’re going to see how successful it is and if we see strong uptake of the iBeacon flow, then we may look at installing beacons in taxis where the driver’s device isn’t capable of emitting a signal. But, for now, we’re going to continue to press ahead with the existing installed base of iOS devices.”

For an initial promotional period, there is no charge to either the passenger or the driver for using Pay with Hailo and, if a passenger does not already have the Hailo app, drivers will instruct them on how to download it and get a discount on their first Pay with Hailo ride.

“We have a huge presence in Dublin and all across Ireland,” Irwin added. “We started rolling out to other cities in the UK including Manchester, and then other cities as well. We have Barcelona and Madrid and then we have about five cities in North America on the East Coast and two in Canada, Toronto and Montreal, and then we’ve recently announced that we’re launching in Singapore and then Tokyo and Osaka.

“Basically, we’re trying to scale up pretty fast and be a global on-demand transportation mobile solution. We’re just continuing to add more supply, add more drivers, invest in marketing to grow our customer base.”

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