Monthly journal Parking Review has been the definitive source of news and intelligence on the UK and international public and private parking sectors since 1989.

A time of change for parking payment

Digital startups can bring agility to the parking back office, says James O’Neill

James O'Neill
11 November 2022
James O`Neill
James O`Neill


Parking payments are getting more complicated. A previously slow-moving industry is facing an unprecedented change. Many parking spaces now offer EV charging. That often means combining parking and charging payments, provided by two different organisations.

Parking providers are also spying opportunities to improve user experience and generate revenue by selling other services, such as booking local attraction tickets through terminals, or paying for multi-modal journeys, parking, trains or cycle hire.

In all cases, the user wants a single transaction. But the provider needs to manage multi-party payments. There are a couple of ways to do this. One is top-down integration of multiple parties into existing backend IT systems. The other is bottom-up, embracing digital technologies to address specific problems.

We have seen this latter approach to a degree with parking apps. But these have generally been complete services that are outsourced to the app company. There are also less acknowledged ‘middleware’ apps, that can take complexity out of the system, without parking operators losing control of the data or the payment.

For example, our own technology handles multi-party transactions in our cloud. This technology was spun out of a project for Flowbird Smart City UK, and highlighted in the 2022 Parkex Innovation Trail.

So in the case of parking and charging, the respective companies sign up, and set their payment terms behind the scenes. The user has one transparent transaction to pay for everything, which can be done via existing payment terminals or apps. Whatever they choose, we manage the integrations and split the payment between both companies.

Reliable backend systems for parking are important. But large legacy IT systems are often cumbersome and slow to update, which is a challenge in a world where customer demands are changing rapidly.

Innovative cloud-based startups, like ours and many others, can outsource the complexity in the middle. This allows parking operators to experiment rapidly with new models, without major IT upgrades but also without making long-term commitments that put the relationship with the end customer in someone else’s hands.

James O’Neill is chief executive officer at Paythru


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Transport for the North
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