Square has pulled the plug on a pilot with New York taxi drivers so it can overhaul its iPad-based card payments system to meet new rules.
Under an agreement with the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), Square has been running a small-scale pilot, involving around 15 cabs, for the past few months. The system consists of an iPad fitted with a card reader in the taxi partition and an iPhone in the front, enabling customers to pay their fare with a swipe.
Only a fortnight ago the firm's chief Jack Dorsey accompanied New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on a ride in a Square-fitted cab for a photo opportunity yet now the trial has been killed off ahead of its intended completion in February.
According to a 12 October letter from Square to the TLC - obtained by the New York Post - the start-up is terminating their MoU having "determined, in light of developments in prospective taxicab regulations in New York and other markets, and based on what we have learned from conducting the Pilot Program to date, that we wish to pursue a different hardware and software solution for our TPEP offering."
Therefore, says the letter, it would be "commercially unreasonable" to carry on with existing pilot. The agreed 45 day notice period has been waived by the TLC and the participating taxi drivers will be reimbursed. Square will also foot the bill for retrofitting cabs with technology from VeriFone or Creative Mobile Technologies, the two incumbents.