The way people pay for parking has been constantly evolving throughout the years. With the introduction of smartphones and the proliferation of mobile apps, payment methods have continued to evolve in an effort to create seamless payment experiences for consumers. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken these shifts and trends and accelerated their adoption and usage at a much more rapid pace than anyone could have imagined.

Not many industries were affected by the pandemic as significantly as the parking industry. With people not going out to restaurants or commuting to work, the usage of parking services saw a dramatic decline. One parking company I am very familiar with, located in a major metropolitan area, saw a volume decrease of 85% from April to May of 2020.

With all of the changes the pandemic brought, one that will last long after it’s gone, is the shift in how people pay. Whether this be in a grocery store or your parking garage, these changes are here to stay. At West Town Payments, we know that having the payment solutions that provide your customers with the smooth payment experience that they have come to expect, is paramount to the success of your business. Even after the pandemic is behind us, these payment trends will continue to become more and more commonplace in the parking industry.  

Contactless Payments

Contactless payments create the ability for consumers to pay by simply tapping a physical card or smartphone, which is enabled by RFID or NFC technologies. This often allows for a quicker, and many times safer, payment experience for customers. While this technology has been on the verge of global adoption for years, the pandemic greatly accelerated the acceptance and usage of contactless payments. According to Visa, 46% of global consumers think using contactless payment methods is among the most important safety measure to follow.

The safety and ease of use of contactless payments for consumers play a substantial role in their decision for where to spend their money. Another stat, according to Visa, is if all other factors were the same (price, selection and location), 63% of consumers would switch to a business that installed contactless payments.

In the parking industry contactless payments create a smoother customer experience than traditional payment methods. They offer the quickest way to pay, leaving consumers with a positive end to their parking experience.

Apps & Mobile Payments

Mobile payments are arguably the biggest overall payment trend worldwide. It is estimated that in 2020, over 1 billion people paid for a good or service using mobile payments and by 2024, global mobile payments are expected to total over $3 Trillion.

With people doing much of their shopping utilizing their smartphone, it makes sense that the parking industry would quickly follow suit. There have been a significant number of new parking apps entering the market that offer unique solutions to the industry. These apps allow consumers to find parking, as well as, pay for their parking through their mobile phone. Popular apps such as, Parkmobile, Parking Panda, Spot Hero, and others provide solutions for parking providers and consumers alike.

One distinct advantage of the mobile payments space is the ability for parking providers to offer “card-on-file” options for their customers. This allows customers to only have to setup their payment method once. After the initial setup, all future payments are done with a single click of a button. Over the past few years more and more parking solutions are allowing for this option, creating seamless payment experiences for parking consumers.

QR Code Payments

Even though QR codes have been in usage for years, they have seen a significant rise during the pandemic, and that rise is expected to continue long after the pandemic is gone. According to Juniper Research, QR code payments will be the most used digital commerce mechanism in terms of volume throughout the next 5 years, accounting for 27% of all digital commerce transactions in 2024.

This mobile friendly option allows users to quickly scan a code from their smartphone, prompting the user to perform some sort of action. The QR codes can be static, which could allow a user to immediately open a payment app. Or there are also dynamic QR codes which simplify the payment process even further. A user could scan a dynamic QR code which opens up a payment app that has their total transaction amount auto-populated, creating a fast and seamless payment process.

Digital payments as a whole are on the rise, with many different methods and variations continuously emerging. As a parking provider, the more you are able to embrace these technological advancements, the better experience your customers will have when paying for your parking service. We recommend researching these different options to find which of them best suit your needs, depending on your exact situation.

About West Town Payments

At West Town Payments we are proud to offer cutting-edge, comprehensive digital payment products and services to the parking industry. Using a highly secure, comprehensive payments platform that integrates with any equipment vendor or software platform, we enable parking providers to accept contactless and mobile payments. With almost two decades of experience in the parking industry we tailor our payments products to the unique needs of the parking industry, creating a seamless payment experience for both you and your customers.

About the Author: Bret is the head of the parking division at West Town Payments. With almost 20 years of parking industry expertise, Bret is known for his outstanding service, expertise in interchange pricing and his commitment to the broader parking industry. His expertise in credit card processing, including revenue control systems and PCI compliance, has made him a sought-after speaker at many national and regional parking conferences, such as IPMI and PIE. Bret seeks to provide credit card processing services tailored to the parking industry to help companies simplify their processes and improve cash flow.