London cabs get digital screen network

Payment technology firm Verifone is launching a digital screen ad network across London’s black cabs as part of a strategy to position itself as a consumer facing brand.

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The company has invested tens of millions of pounds in developing the technology to provide digital screen content and card payment terminals with contactless payment options in London’s black cabs.

The in-taxi screens will show a range of content from advertisers and the company is preparing to announce a partnership with one of the UK’s major broadcasters to provide news, sport and weather content direct to the cars.

The technology will allow passengers to access targeted promotions from advertisers direct to their mobile phone via the contactless terminal.

For advertisers, Roberts says the taxi network provides a targeted option that will put brands in front of affluent, business users in the capital. Brands will be charged based on the actual playout their content receives, not estimates of footfall like other out of home media.

Verifone has also acquired London-based taxi advertising company Taxi Media which means it can access 70% of London Taxi advertising market and offer advertisers complete packages across traditional taxi wraps and in-car ads as well as it’s digital screen network.

The network also includes GPS/geo location capabilities meaning that brands can trigger promotions and content to the location of the cars.

The b2b brand, which describes itself as the biggest brand consumers don’t know about, hopes to shift its business focus and become a b2c brand.

Mark Roberts vice president and general manager of Verifone Taxi and Media Solutions says: “My aim is to take Verifone from the shadows and bring it front and centre. Taxi pay media is a strategic move for us.”

Roberts says the roll out of the pay media network fits in with the growth of the near field communications (NFC) and the digital wallets being developed by Google and the major mobile phone networks, as well as the growth of mobile coupons, vouchers, and geo-location marketing.

It operates a similar system in New York, where there is a legal mandate for all taxis to offer card payments. The company is working with Groupon in the US to provide targeted offers to passengers.

The company currently has around 1,500 live screens in London taxicabs as part of a trial launched earlier this year and is now updating the system to roll out. Roberts hopes to have 4,000 taxis in the digital network by the end of the year to cash in on Christmas shopping in the capital.

By the London 2012 Olympics, Verifone hopes to expand its digital network to 10,000 black cabs, almost 50% of the taxis on the road.
Roberts says Verifone shares Visa and MasterCard’s goal of increasing cashless payments, adding that its global strategy is to follow the credit card brands, which both invest heavily in consumer facing marketing and sponsorship activity, around the world.

It currently has a 60% share of the chip and pin terminal market in the UK and has significant market share around the world.

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