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MobileNow debuts NFC parking payments platform

MobileNow claims that it has launched the first near field communication technology to support contactless mobile payments for all types of metered parking.

MobileNow’s new Touch’n Park system consists of an NFC-enabled RFID tag that is used in conjunction with an NFC-enabled phone. To use the system, consumers touch the phone to the tag and a text message is sent to MobileNow’s servers to create a parking event, and when the parker returns, they touch the tag again to stop the parking transaction.

“We deal with on-street and off-street metered parking, and the government owns and operates almost all parking entities that have meters in the U.S.,” said Larry Berman, Delray Beach, FL-based director and vice president of technology at MobileNow and former Parking Commissioner for the City of New York. “We address challenges such as customization for each city.

“Some permits are daily, some monthly and some seasonal—we sell those parking permits,” he said. “If consumers open up an account with our company, they give us a credit card or a PayPal account, and if they want to add more dollars we have a procedure to do that.

“They can keep their account open, and we also have a prepaid card with a PIN number that you can buy in stores.”

MobileNow is a provider of digital permit and mobile payment services. It is the sole United States distributor for technology developed by Now Innovations, a mobile payment service provider.

The company’s platform lets consumers pay by mobile phone on- and off-street parking, as well as tickets for public transportation, movies, museums and sporting events.

In the U.S., MobileNow has deals in place with the local governments of Decatur, GA, Montgomery County, MD, and Hudson, NY, as well as various deployments in Europe.

Touch and go
MobileNow’s Touch’n Park system can be used for single-space meters, pay-and-display or pay-by-space machines.

The charges will be billed to whatever billing account the parker sets up, and can be itemized and managed through a customer Web portal to support expense management and budgeting. 

MobileNow claims that, for the owners of the parking facilities, this means near 100 percent collection of revenues, and the ability to have a higher-value relationship with their parking clients, offering loyalty programs through special pricing or events packages.

The system can also be used for control purposes, as parking enforcement personnel can be supplied with NFC-enabled phones, saving cities money and time in enforcement costs, according to MobileNow.

As NFC-enabled mobile phones become available over the coming year, MobileNow expects adoption of this application to pick up speed.

“Right now the only NFC-enabled handsets being produced on a large scale are Nokia phones, mostly in Europe, and we don’t expect rapid growth in that technology this year,” Mr. Berman said. “We’re on the early part of the curve, but when the phones hit commercially, we’ll be ready to expand rapidly.

“We believe the Apple iPhone will have NFC in either the next version or the one after, given all of the patents Apple has filed related to that technology,” he said. “Nokia is also ramping up NFC for the U.S. market.

“In the meantime, there’s microSD—a couple of companies have developed a snap-on piece for NFC, and we’re seeing the market generate products that will improve the usage of NFC.”