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Maybe soon you can say: Take this cab and charge it

Published Oct. 9, 2005

The credit card industry, in its zeal to expand to new markets and increase charge volume, is looking beyond stores, fast food outlets and doctors' offices to new territory: taxicabs.

MasterCard International is preparing a marketing and advertising campaign linked to a test of cellular telephones for taxi passengers in New York City, an industry official said last week. A passenger would use a credit card to place the mobile phone calls, similar to an arrangement in many commercial airlines.

The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, which regulates the city's cabs, said several companies are close to finishing proposals to install the mobile phones in the cabs. A pilot program is expected to begin sometime this summer.

The credit card industry sees the mobile phone service as its way to get a foot in the door, so to speak, in the city's cabs and have plastic bank cards used as an payment option.

"I expect it will lead to that," said Bruce Schaller, the commission's director of policy.

Currently, about 1,000 city taxicabs accept American Express charge cards, Schaller said, but the latest plan would allow electronic verification of a passenger's bank card through the mobile telephone network.

That could allow many more cabs to accept all kinds of plastic for a ride.