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Payment Trends in the Parking Industry in a Post-Pandemic World

May 26, 2021

Bret Johnson

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 to create more 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 percent 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. 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 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 percent of global consumers think using contactless payment methods is among the most important safety measures to follow.


The safety and ease of use of contactless payments for consumers plays a substantial role in where they decide to spend their money. Another statistic, according to Visa, is that if all other factors were the same (price, selection and location), 63 percent 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. Contactless payments 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 goods or services using mobile payments and by 2024, global mobile payments are expected to total over $3 Trillion. 


With people doing much of their shopping on their smartphones, 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 phones. 


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 set up 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 use 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 percent 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. 


 


Bret Johnson is Senior Sales Executive at West Town Payments. He can be reached at  bjohnson@westtownpayments.com.


 



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