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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Taxi Companies Charge Into Uncharted Territory

VedomostiLittle demand is expected for credit card taxis because gypsy cabs are cheaper.
Taxi companies are charging boldly into the future by equipping their fleets with imprinters so customers can pay for their journey by credit card.

The first two companies to offer the service were Real Car and Skarlet, but it remains to be seen how much demand there is for such a feature in a city that can be crossed in a gypsy cab for 150 rubles ($4.80).

Real Car inked a deal this summer with Paveletsky bank to acquire the manual imprinters for 10 of the cars in its fleet, which consists of Citroen and Daewoo models, said Yelena Dulova, Real Car's chief accountant.

After making a carbon copy of the client's credit card, the driver connects with the processing center by cellphone and dictates the details and then waits for the transaction confirmation.

Skarlet said it has launched a similar program recently with Impexbank.

And on Wednesday the two companies were joined by Aleks-Polyus-Taxi, which has struck a deal with Guta Bank to equip 20 of its GAZ-3110s with imprinters.

Instead of each driver dealing with the bank individually, however, Aleks-Polyus-Taxi uses a single dispatcher to liaise with Guta.

For people on business trips who need to document expenses, the new system is desirable, as the imprinters create two copies of the bill.

Alex-Polyus said that while its taxis can handle all major credit cards, regardless of the issuer, clients with cards issued by Guta receive a 5 percent discount.

According to the director of Guta's retail department, Dmitry Zheleztsov, the initiative for introducing the new service came from Aleks-Polyus itself.

Aleks-Polyus focuses on servicing regular customers, including executives of several Western companies who have shown considerable interest in the scheme, as it makes it easier for foreign businessmen in Moscow to navigate their way around.

And Real Car said the request that it introduce the system came from its biggest client -- global computer chip giant Intel.

For the taxi companies, the system is cost efficient, as the cost of a single imprinter is just $10 to $15, which can quickly be recovered in commissions -- especially for Real Car, which charges $50 for a ride from Sheremetyevo Airport's second terminal to downtown.

Other companies, such as Prestige and Taxi Blues charge just 500 rubles ($15.75), but in cash.

A spokesman for a major Moscow bank, who asked that his name be withheld, said he doubted the scheme would catch on, mainly because drivers always prefer cash.