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NO SIGNAL, NO PAYMENT: Taxi drivers face licensing risk over much needed back-up payment devices

Updated: Mar 3

The Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA) has highlighted a pressing issue facing London's taxi drivers as cabbies turn to unapproved secondary devices for accepting payments, a move that could jeopardise their taxi licences.

Anthony Street, an Executive at the LTDA, pointed out that all payment providers and devices used by taxi drivers must pass a thorough approval process by Transport for London (TfL) to meet industry standards and regulations. This process is designed to protect both drivers and passengers from potential fraud and misuse of payment systems. However, this stance limits drivers' access to new technology and competitive commission rates.

The LTDA acknowledges the necessity for backup payment solutions but warns against practices that might attract licensing enforcement actions. The Association is in discussions with TfL to find a suitable backup option that complies with regulations. Efforts include exploring a QR code-based system, which could offer a TfL-approved alternative.

Since the mandatory introduction of credit card payments in 2016, the reliance on such transactions has significantly increased. However, issues with reliability persist, leading to serious concerns for drivers. The lack of a convenient and approved backup payment method forces some drivers to use unreliable systems or resort to unapproved alternatives, posing risks to their licences and income.

Anthony Street said in TAXI Newspaper: “Many drivers resort to using secondary devices as backups to ensure they receive payment. However, these devices are generally not approved by TfL, potentially subjecting drivers to penalties or warnings that could impact their taxi licence.

“At the moment, all credit card payment providers and devices must undergo rigorous scrutiny and approval by Transport for London (TfL) to ensure compliance with industry standards and regulations. This stringent vetting process serves as a safeguard, protecting both drivers and passengers from potential fraud or misuse of payment systems. Unfortunately, it can also be quite a slow process and limits the options available to drivers due to specific requirements, meaning they aren’t always able to access new technologies, the best rates of commission and other potential deals on offer.

“The LTDA recognises the need for backup solutions, but drivers shouldn’t be doing anything that could lead to licensing enforcement action being taken against them, including using an alternative unapproved payment device, especially in the current climate.

“We are discussing the need for a viable backup option with TfL and trying to find a solution which works for both sides. For example, we’ve been working with the company behind a QR code-based system that can be linked to the meter, to see if they can get TfL approval.

“Credit card payments are increasingly key to our business, and we’ve all come a long way since they were mandated in 2016, but issues around reliability continue to cause serious problems for drivers. Until there is a TfL approved, convenient back-up option available to drivers to make sure they can always get paid, some will continue to feel like they are being forced into using systems that don’t work and cost them their hard-earned money and others will likely continue to resort to alternatives risking potentially serious consequences. We will continue to push TfL for action on this.”


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