Startups

Curb and Via bring ride-sharing to NYC’s Yellow Taxis


New Yorkers are about to get even more friendly!* Today, Via and Curb are bringing ride-sharing through a digital wallet to yellow taxis in the Big Apple.

Both apps will let New Yorkers hail a yellow taxi with a ride-sharing option, with Via’s intelligent routing platform ensuring that the driver takes the most efficient route possible on multi-passenger rides. The service can save users up to 40 percent on taxi rides, and the move this morning should catch the attention of Uber and Lyft with their competing UberPool and Lyft Line products.

But let’s rewind.

Verifone has been working with yellow taxis for years to provide technology like credit card terminals, digital meters, driver tablets, and passenger tablets. In August 2013, the company launched Way2Ride, letting smartphone users hail a taxi with their phone for the first time, pay for those rides with their smartphones, and effectively taking on Uber.

In October 2013, Verifone bought Curb (an existing ride-hailing app) and sunsetted Way2Ride while transferring users over to the Curb app.

For the last year, Curb has allowed to pay for the taxis they’re in after hailing with their hand, simply by downloading the app and punching in the code on the backseat screen of the taxi. The app also lets users hail cabs with their phone.

Verifone powers two-thirds of NYC’s approximately 15,000 cabs, and Curb to date has “a couple million accounts set up” and powers “several hundred thousand trips a month” according to Jason Gross, global head of product and marketing for taxis at Verifone. Gross added that NYC’s Curb is used for payments more often than all the other mobile wallets combined.

Meanwhile, Via has been around since September 2013, differentiating itself in the market by focusing primarily on multi-passenger rides and making them more efficient. Via works by looking at all drivers and all passengers to route the fastest, least cumbersome multi-passenger rides.

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Via’s VP of Communication Gabrielle McCaig said that Via has 800,000 members who have signed up for the service, with more than 15 million rides across the markets Via serves (NYC, Chicago, and Washington D.C.).

With this partnership, users on either app can take advantage of ride-sharing in NYC’s yellow taxis, regardless of which app they use to hail the cab.

Gross explained that Verifone is interested in being a platform (like the App Store), instead of building out all the technology it wants for taxis on its own.

Given Via’s prowess with regard to multi-passenger rides — Via has raised upwards of $130 million in funding — Verifone/Curb brought the app into the fold to power routing for all ride-sharers in NYC Taxis. Meanwhile, Via can leverage Curb’s infiltration of the NYC Taxi market to reach more users.

Verifone licenses technology to taxi vendors, including individual taxi owners and fleet owners to bring better technology into their cabs.

Though Via and Curb wouldn’t disclose exact figures, the companies confirmed that the deal is based on a revenue share between the cabs, Via and Curb.

New Yorkers feeling friendly this morning can go check out the Curb and/or Via app themselves and ride to work with one of their fellow New Yorkers.

*Myself included.



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