PayByPhone is bringing mobile payments to parking meters in cities around the world, and the vendor argues that its platform will attract consumers that don't want a different app for every city they travel to.

Started in 2000, PayByPhone is one of the few parking payments companies with a global footprint, working in Seattle, Miami, London, Paris, Melbourne and several other cities. A user of the mobile payment service in one city can use the same app in any other city that accepts PayByPhone.

"From a business perspective we're working with more and more adjacent cities and small boroughs … to drive a consumer network effect," said Kush Parikh, president of North America and chief product officer at PayPoint Plc, the retail payment provider that developed PayByPhone.

PayByPhone recently began working with clients in London to allow commuters in Kensington and Chelsea to use mobile devices to pay for their parking. The locales are dense and tech-savvy, said Parikh.

PayByPhone has more than nine million registered users across the globe and is on average signing up 6,200 users per day, Parikh said. "The business has existed for a long period of time but this year alone we'll add 20% or more on our existing user base," he said.

About five years ago, locating and paying for a parking space on a mobile device was just an experiment that many cities didn't give much thought to, Parikh said. But as smartphone penetration increases and mobile payments are becoming more popular (predominantly because of the launch of Apple Pay), city agencies are hoping to benefit from adopting mobile for parking and other transportation services.

Cubic Transportations Systems Inc. also offers parking payment technology, but is more well-known for transportation payments, such as London's Underground and National Rail systems.

"What we see transactionally … especially versus coin is a 40% or more uplift on a single spot," Parikh said. For instance, if a parking meter's average coin transaction is $2, with PayByPhone that spot will usually make closer to $3 or $4 per transaction, he said. Some cities have maximum stay rules for parking spaces, but the vendor makes a little more money when there isn't a maximum stay rule, he added.

The app requests the consumer's name, license plate number and credit card information. To pay for a spot, the consumer enters a parking space number. PayByPhone also alerts users 15 minutes before their time expires. Users can top-up their parking time from within the mobile app.

PayByPhone was one of the several payment and finance apps developed for the Apple Watch. Apple promoted the app online.

The app's highest penetration is in Galveston, Texas, which removed all coin and pay-and-display machines. While many commuters use the mobile app, PayByPhone has partnered with merchants near the parking spaces so consumers can use cash as a backup.

In London, pay-and-display machines — which Parikh calls "$20,000 cell phones" — will be removed over the next several months. As in Texas, London will also provide a cash payment option through merchants.

Last summer, PayByPhone acquired Adaptis Solutions, a permit parking solutions provider. With Adaptis' tech, PayByPhone is branching out into virtual permits. Instead of printing out hang tags for consumers, PayByPhone will manage virtual tags connected to the person's license plate number. This could help permit agencies save substantially on the $4 to $8 to print each physical tag, said Parikh.

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