Taxi-app firm Hailo is ‘making quite a lot of mistakes’ with its technology, its marketing boss said yesterday during a Leaders in Innovation event in Central London.

Hailo - which lets customers hail a black cab on their smartphone - is currently experimenting with location-based technology to allow customers to pay for their fare through the Hailo app.

Hailo was founded by three tech entrepreneurs and three black cab drivers ©Hailo
Hailo was founded by three tech entrepreneurs and three black cab drivers ©Hailo

For example, it placed beacons in cabs so that passengers receive a push notification asking if they want to pay through the device rather than handing over cash to the driver.

However, after testing the payment scheme, chief marketing officer Gary Bramall said location-based pop-ups have not been popular amongst users, adding that they “freak them out”. Beacons planted on taxi ranks were also alienating customers, he said.

But these “mistakes” have not put Hailo on a backfoot, he was keen to add. The development team are now working on a way to provide an easy way for passengers to book and pay for cabs, “the right way, with the right message”, without alarming users over data and location privacy.

Bramall would not divulge what technology Hailo had up its sleeve to knock rival Uber out of the park, but he said the firm’s unique black cab network was enough to help it win market share.

Hailo claims to get passengers to their destination 35 percent faster than Uber drivers as black cab drivers are versed in ‘The Knowledge’. Hailo’s community of black cab drivers have been tested on their knowledge of city routes and know shortcuts that cannot be found on satellite navigation systems - something that Uber’s mini-cab drivers rely on.

Bramall said he did not see Uber as a threat, and added that he was a fan of the mini-cab service and used its services. 

However his colleague, chief technology officer Rorie Devine takes a different view. He told Techworld last year: "I’ve never taken an Uber ride in my life” and that he has no intention to.

This week Hailo announced it had appointed Andrew Pinnington, once chief operating officer at Carphone Warehouse, as its head. This was the third chief executive switchover in as many months.

It is hoped Pinnington will help with Hailo’s international expansion which it has found challenging in the past. In mid-October last year the firm pulled out of North America as it struggled to compete with rivals Uber and Lyft.