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Less ‘cash’ in favour of an abundance of ‘mobile’ parking data

A noticeable trend in parking: large groups of end-users are switching from cash payments directly to ‘mobile payments’. “This trend gives us an abundance of additional information, such as the actual parking duration of different types of parkers and their vehicles at various locations. Information that is very useful for the management of parking facilities as well as for policy implementation.” A conversation with Ernst Bos, who switched as director of parking consultancy firm Spark to the same position at data analytics daughter company Monit Data.

“A logical step”, explains Bos. “We started with parking consultancy at Spark, and we were soon quite busy processing a wide variety of parking data available giving parking operators data-driven insights. We therefore built a future-proof data platform for this purpose that can link and process all kinds of current and future data sources and functions via connectors. This includes any parking operator, supplier, bank or independent MaaS provider. It has become an ICT company in itself that now processes the parking data and payment transactions of about 35 municipalities and various private parties in the Netherlands and abroad.”

“This processing of payment transactions starts when paying for parking with cash, debit card, credit card or mobile app and only ends when the parking revenues are credited to the operator’s bank. This way we can take care of the entire consolidation from collection to payment. In addition, we follow parking trends based on multiple data sources. We feed this ‘policy information’ back to our clients, including a parking dashboard that can be consulted by everyone.”

Bos elaborates on the observed trend in parking payments: “The fact that cash payments are declining rapidly is of course an obvious trend, because we all experience that in our daily behaviour. But it is interesting to see where this development comes from and what the expectations are for the future. Based on data from our platform, we can draw the following conclusions:

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The trend in parking transactions per payment method for on-street parking.

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The trend in payment methods at on-street parking meters.

The share of mobile payments has grown over the past five years from approximately one third of all parking payments to two thirds. The result is a spectacular decline in the use of cash. The number of payments with a debit or credit card has however remained more or less the same.

The number of cash payments had already dropped to 10 percent at the end of 2020. This is about half compared to overall payment trends in the Netherlands; there cash use was 21 percent in 2020. The parking sector therefore clearly leads other sectors in the decline of cash use. Today the share of cash payments in parking has even declined further to almost 5 percent.

The quick growth of mobile payments with parking follows from the many available options and ease of paying with apps. We see that the main replacement of cash in parking is by mobile payments. It is true that more and more cities are abolishing cash payments at vending machines on the street – the number of transactions at vending machines where you can no longer pay with cash has grown from about 5 percent to 60 percent in the past 5 years – but you also see that more often there a replacement by mobile than by debit/credit card.

In addition to the convenience of apps for end users, a good underlying payment infrastructure is also important for the success of mobile payments. In the Netherlands, for example, the data ‘service house’ SHPV contributes to the ease with which mobile payment providers can connect to public and private parking operators.

Cash payments still have a bigger share where the number of foreign visitors is higher, such as in touristic places with a seasonal pattern. In the Netherlands these can be found at the North Sea coast and in cities along the border. This is not surprising knowing that in some surrounding countries, especially in Germany, the use of cash is still much more common when making purchases.

“This analysis says a lot,” emphasizes Bos. “With cash payments, the purchased parking time often depends on what people have in their wallet. In addition, someone does not know in advance what the parking time will be. The latter also applies to debit card payments. With the trend of switching from cash to mobile payment and therefore sign in and out, we also get a much better picture of the actual parking behaviour of motorists. And that in turn is important information for the management of parking operators and for implementing policies. Moreover, acceptance of mobile parking also offers financial advantages for municipalities. After all, cash payments are relatively expensive, such as the costs for cash deposits, and the investment and maintenance of parking meters that must be able to accept cash. Cash is also more susceptible to fraud.”

The use of mobile payments in parking is clearly ahead compared to other sectors’

Ernst Bos Monit Data betaaltrends

In short, says Bos: “This is an interesting development for us and for the parking market as a whole: traditional payment methods are disappearing and payment apps with increasing added value are appearing. Looking to the future, we expect that the way we pay in everyday life will continue to change, and therefore also for parking.” For parking operators, Bos expects, this means that they will have to deal with even more systems, equipment and platforms to incorporate different payment options. “For example, the first MaaS providers are also discovering parking, for example Gaiyo, and the payment options are expanding even further.”

The step to use parking data for policies can also also highly automated, Bos concludes: “Via our Parking Monitor, the dashboard, our clients get a clear overview of all payment methods, and they can carry out their own analyses and can thus optimise their policy. After all, if you as an operator know which channel is most important for which target group, you also know what you should focus on in order to realise the goals of your mobility policies. And then I haven’t even mentioned the abundance of (open) data that becomes available through the linking of parking data and EV-charging behaviour of motorists. That might be something to discuss next year.”

Meet Monit Data

Monit Data provides data-driven insights in parking and mobility for public and private parking operators. If you want to learn more about the financial analysis and other services our platform we are looking forward to meeting you at the one of the international conferences this year. Monit Data will have a booth June 6-8 at Parkex 2023 in Birmingham (United Kingdom) and June 28-29 at Parken 2023 in Wiesbaden (Germany).

This article was written in collaboration with the ‘Trend Book Mobility’. In the Trend Book you can read more about the latest developments and expert views about the very dynamic field of mobility. A subject that is relevant for all of us,  from both our professional expertise and how we as individuals experience the environment we live in.

The Trend Book Mobility 2023 contains 41 interviews with government, research and solution provider parties. You can read the entire trend book free of charge via this link (Dutch only).