I’ve been writing about Techie people on Technobiography. Today, I write about Techie Taxis in Singapore and relate them to the technologies that we have in the Philippines that can turn Filipino Taxi drivers into Techies too.
The Taxis we rode in Singapore had a variety of gadgets:
a.) A seven segment display LED fare meter, just like we have here in the Philippines.
b.) An ERP (Electronic Road Pricing) sensor that automatically debits a toll fee when passing ERP gates (some Singaporeans call this “everyday rob people”). The gadget is like the e-Pass gadget of motorists at the South Luzon Expressway .
c.) A touch screen monitor that indicates where the passenger boarded the taxi and at what time. At the end of the trip, the monitor indicates the fare, sometimes with adjustments depending on the time of day or location of pick-up. The touch screen monitor has other functions, I’m sure. At one time, I observed an announcement message in the monitor, to which the driver tapped the screen to acknowledge reading the message. I wonder if they could watch “Laban o Bawi” on those monitors.
d.) I also surmise that the taxi has some kind of global positioning device. How else can the monitor automatically “know” where the passenger boarded the taxi.
e.) Lastly, you’ll see a credit card terminal and a printer! Yup yup, you read it right. Passengers can pay the taxi using a credit card.
for the heck of it as an academic and research exercise (read: pang-u-usiyoso), I tried paying for one taxi ride using my credit card. Nahiya pa ako when I asked the driver, “May I pay via credit card?” Our bill was only around 3 Singapore dollars (around 95 Philippine pesos). “Sure”, said the taxi driver as he began the credit card verification.
I couldn’t see it from the back seat, but I heard a recorded female voice giving audible instructions to the driver. He waited for a cue and then he swiped my card. We waited a while and then the on-board printer started churning out a tape receipt which I signed.
There. Finished! Paid! With some admin charges (around SGD50 ata) . Oops! Pero okay lang, at least I have this story to tell.
I guess the taxi has some sort of modem that connects to the credit card verification network via a mobile phone call. What’s the net effect? Well, it’s a convenient and cashless payment method. It’s exact (no need for barya – lose change). It’s a good back-up payment method especially for tourists or business executives who might not have enough Singapore dollars to pay for a cab.
Can we do this in the Philippines? Pay without cash. Pay exact fare. Get a receipt for the payment. Even ask a friend to make the payment for us if we don’t have enough cash.
Yup, we can do already that! In fact, it has been advertised on TV. It’s called G-Cash. For that matter, Smart Money can also be used to make the payment.
By using m-commerce, we can avoid having a driver keep the change so automatically. Nocs calls this “sukli challenged drivers”.
Another plus side of m-commerce for the driver, he doesn’t have to hang on to too much hard cash. Instead, he has mobile currency that he can forward to the company or to his wife to reduce the risks of having too much money at hand. At the end of the day, he can even forward his “boundary” using the G-Cash he collected throughout the day.
Imagineering lang … things that could be …
Afterall, a great invention (and a great country) begins with imagining what could be attained.