Vodafone lets Londoners pay for taxis via text message, charge their phones in transit

Mobile payment systems may be gaining only gradual steam in the US, but over on the other side of the pond, Vodafone UK has launched a broad new campaign to integrate smartphone technology where Londoners may need it most -- in the back of taxis. As of today, many cab passengers will be able to charge their smartphones in transit, thanks to a wide range of chargers that the mobile carrier has installed in more than 500 of London's iconic black vehicles. Vodafone is also rolling out a new payment scheme today, whereby cash-strapped travelers can text their cab's license number to a specific code, allowing any owed fares to be charged directly to their phone bills. The system certainly doesn't sound as elegant as some of the NFC-based operations we've heard about, but it still beats having to navigate your cab driver to the nearest ATM, with the meter tick-tocking away.