A year ago VeriFone Systems, Inc. (NYSE: PAY) acquired Clear Channel Taxi Media and now that they have undoubtedly figured out the best way to integrate their card payment technology into a screen media solution the next logical step for them was to expand abroad.
VeriFone’s announcement this week that its Card Payment and Media system for Taxis is coming to London could be a nice shot in the arm for digital out of home in the UK or it could be an abject failure, pretty much like we think Cabvision is now.
If VeriFone choose the right media sales partner, admit that they are predominantly technology people and not (necessarily) media people (and therefore where their skills and expertise lie), listen to the advice that media and content people give them (especially locally, the UK market is much different to the US market) then they could be onto a winner.
On the other hand they could fill their screens with scrolling tickers, weather feeds, TV news channels (and maybe like Cabvision allow the customer to turn the screen off or heaven forbid change channels) and mess up the wonderful opportunity they have in front of them.
This week’s announcement was that the VeriFone system has now been approved for TX model taxis by Transport for London’s Taxi and Private Hire (the taxi licensing authority) and recruitment for drivers to use the system is underway. Basically the payment system (with screen attached) is being offered free to London’s licensed black cabs which will surely spell the end for Cabvision who now seem to pay only GBP 250 a year to taxi owners (it was GBP 1,000 at launch) for screen placement in the back (and that of course has no payment mechanism attached – it’s just a screen).
The beauty of the VeriFone system is that it integrates with taxi meters and allows the drivers to easily accept credit, debit and contactless cards – the screen of course if used properly will allow digital content to be shown to passengers.
One thing that does worry us in the news just released is the ‘VeriFone Entertainment Network’ which is described as “delivering compelling onboard media from leading broadcasters and advertisers” – sounds already like they may be missing the point a little.
Shaun Burger, VeriFone vice president and general manager, Northern Europe, Middle East and Africa said “This is a total payment and media solution that enables black cab operators to enhance the customer experience with card payment options and access to a choice of multimedia content during their trips,”
Again, there’s that wording “choice of multimedia content” which scares us and more importantly will scare advertisers away.
He continued “We know what it takes to make card payments succeed in challenging environments. Uniquely, we can also deliver dynamic and interactive taxi-based media campaigns to advertisers seeking targeted, high-value alternatives to traditional outdoor and venue-based media channels.”
They obviously have great technology but based on the announcement they have a lot of work to do in understanding some of the simple dynamics of taxi-cab advertising. Done properly though this could be really good.