Crown Taxi has installed wireless point-of-sale (POS) devices in all its vehicles. Thanks to terminals from Vancouver-based EXcape Business Transactions Inc. Crown said

its end result is a ten-fold increase in credit card transactions.

Ernie Grzincic, general manager for Crown Taxi, said the company began thinking wireless a few years ago when it installed global positioning systems (GPS) for safety reasons in June 2001. As he investigated possible solutions, he stumbled onto the EXcape, which would solve his driver safety issues as well as add a convenient feature for customers.

“”We put in a few units at a time, made sure the technology worked and ironed out some kinks. It was in October 2002 that we enabled the entire fleet,”” Grzincic said.

Grzincic said it takes about one hour to install the device and uses Rogers AT&T’s Mobitex cellular network to transmit data . The system, which accepts MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Diners Club and debit cards, is operated like other similar devices. The driver keys the amount of the fare in, the card is swiped and the customer completes the transaction with the keypad.

Crown driver Winston Brown said the system was easy to learn and it only takes about a minute to log on with his ID number. Both Brown and Grzincic said adding another payment method will increase customer loyalty. They estimate repeat customers account for 80 per cent or more of their business.

For EXcape’s president Darryl Jones, the project is one of those I-can’t-believe-I-didn’t-think-of-that ideas.

“”What other aspect of your daily life can you not use credit?”” Jones says. “”Canadians are a bunch of plastic freaks. We use plastic everywhere.””

Jones said taxis and limos are mobile services and a wireless POS can be used in any similar case: everything from pizza to home oil delivery. But for now, he said, it will concentrate and working its way into the 4,000 cabs in Toronto before, mostly likely, expanding the service to Montreal and across the country. He estimated there are 50,000 cabs in Canada with Mobitex covering about 47 per cent of the population.

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