Thursday, 10 January 2013

Using your Cell Phone to pay for Parking

DC pay phone.pngWhen I was in Washington, DC in early November for the US Telecom “Voice Innovation Summit” I was floored when I was walking around and saw signs to “pay for your parking with your phone”.  I’ve seen and witnessed a lot of mobile value-added service applications around the world, but not typically first in the US.  So when I saw this I actually did a double-take.  This stuff just doesn’t happen in the US first.
I vowed to check this out when I returned and so I have.  At one level, I am disappointed that it’s not some kind of near-field communications application, or scanning a barcode or QR code.  You have to set up an account ahead of time and then call it in. It may actually take longer to do all this than if you had a few quarters with you.  And there is actually a transaction fee.  So I don’t know if I’d use this if I lived in Washington, DC unless of course the actual cost to park is high and the transaction fee was a small percentage of it.
On the other hand, you do get text messages when it’s running out, and you can refill remotely, always handy if you are out for dinner!  And you can get Apps downloaded to your phone to help minimize the parking fee set up time.