It may soon get a lot easier to take payment systems designed for the information superhighway and use them on real-world streets, according to a Canadian company that specializes in parking transactions.
Pogo.pro, a unit of Pointe Claire, Quebec-based Money Services and Banking Analysts (MSBA), offers city parking authorities access to its online portal, which aggregates parking data and payment providers, the company announced June 15.
Public parking transactions are becoming increasingly complex for parking authorities because consumers want to use e-commerce providers the parking companies may not accept, such as PayPal Inc., Mark Sibthorpe, executive director of MSBA and Pogo.pro, or Professionals On The Go, tells PaymentsSource.
Alternative payment providers don't always have individual relationships established with all city parking operations, Sibthorpe says.
"Pogo.pro serves as the middle man in this case, aggregating all of the data about available parking and putting it into one portal so someone seeking a parking spot can call up the website and see available spaces from various parking garages in various cities," Sibthorpe says.
As a registered Pogo.pro user, the consumer can find directions to parking locations and use a calculator on the site to determine the cost of a parking space, Sibthorpe says.
The consumer then submits a request to reserve and prepay for a space. The request enters the MSBA server, which forwards it to the parking lot vendor to confirm the spot is available at the time requested, he says.
"Imagine you have tickets to an event, you could pre-order parking as well," Sibthorpe says.
When the space is authorized, Pogo sends a confirmation text message back to the consumer, requesting a payment, Sibthorpe explains.
MSBA acts as a payment gateway or "switch" at that point, funneling the transaction information to the user's preferred digital payment provider for processing, he adds.
The system targets consumers using mobile wallets, eliminating the need for them to set up multiple accounts with various parking authorities, Sibthorpe says.
Payment providers benefit from merchant aggregation systems such as Pogo.pro because they can have payments funneled to them without having to establish the individual relationships with parking companies, industry analyst Todd Ablowitz, president of Centennial, Colo.-based Double Diamond Group LLC, tells PaymentsSource.
However, Pogo.pro is attempting to establish "a two-sided market" because it needs the parking authorities on board and the consumers seeking the site, Ablowitz adds.
"It can be very successful and have a high value for consumers, but it is always expensive to prop up a two-sided market," Ablowitz says.
Still, Pogo.pro finds itself in the right place at the right time, Ablowitz notes. "Parking and mobile payments is a growing market, and it is particularly competitive in Canada and Europe," he says.
Sibthorpe said he could not disclose the details of Pogo.pro's pricing or revenue-sharing plans. He also would not disclose its software or application interface requirements.
Pogo.pro is in the process of discussing its system with parking authorities and search engine and payment providers, Sibthorpe says. "Everyone would get a piece of the pie, with the parking authorities seeing an increase in sales," he says.