Control Data's Terminal May Let Taxis Charge It

Control Data Corp. has introduced a service that may pave the way for consumers to use their credit cards in taxicabs.

Control Data Corp. has introduced a service that may pave the way for consumers to use their credit cards in taxicabs.

The service, developed in conjunction with the San Diego-based Express Payment Network, allows credit card transactions to be processed in vehicles in less than five seconds.

The technology is now being used in the vans of Los Angeles-based SuperShuttle International, the nation's largest airport shuttle service. The transport company said it has seen a 33% increase in credit card sales since installing the system in August 1990.

Banks Eager for Business

The number of active credit card accounts in the United States rose 8.7% last year, according to The Nilson Report, an industry newsletter. And experts said banks and merchants alike are eager to provide more opportunities for consumers to use their new cards.

"Technology like this opens up a new place where, historically, credit cards have not been used very much," said William N. Hanson, network planning manager at Control Data. "Removing technological barriers can definitely lead to increases in transaction volume."

With the recent slowdown in other lending activities, many financial institutions are relying more heavily on their credit card business for revenue. For that reason, increases in card usage are a welcome development to bankers.

The system developed by Control Data and Express Payment uses stand-alone point-of-sale terminals placed in airport limousines.

Each processing terminal is updated daily with account information on which it bases its approval or rejection of each transaction. This allows the terminal to authorize transactions off-line, thus saving on communications costs.

When a customer elects to pay with a credit card, the cashier on board the van swipes the credit card's magnetic strip through the point-of-sale device and keys in the amount to be charged the customers account. If the transaction is approved, the system stores the details and prints out a receipt in seconds.

Day's Data Transferred

When the day's runs are completed, the van's point-of-sale device is hooked up to a computer at the garage, and the day's transactions are transferred in a batch for transmission to credit card networks for settlement.

Industry officials said the success of the SuperShuttle program could lead to more extensive use of the mobile point-of-sale terminals in taxicabs and buses across the country that can now only take cash.

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