Mobile payments – the changes in parking technology impacting council services – By Kush Parikh, President of PayByPhone
24 September 2015 - Last year, the Department for Communities and Local Government published a report encouraging local government to adopt more digital services so it could deliver £500 million savings per year for the next ten years. What’s surprising is that there are over 600 different services that councils in England provide to the public in their local areas. Those councils who are progressively becoming digitised are already reaping the benefits and saving, on average, 25 percent year-on-year. However, many local authorities haven’t fully embraced the incredible savings potential of providing digital services by using modern tools and technologies, with mobile at the forefront of the landscape. Embracing digital technologies can fundamentally change how councils provide services to residents, both directly and indirectly – from recycling and housing to leisure and parking.
It’s time for councils to be more ambitious and aggressive when it comes to digital transition, as consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with technology. With 93 percent of UK adults personally owning or using a mobile phone and 57 percent using their mobile phone to access the internet, it’s important for local authorities to align their online services accordingly. The use of technology has enabled us to move towards a self-service society, whereby human intervention is becoming almost invisible – and in addition, has helped councils make significant cost savings. In fact, a study across 120 local councils looked at the total of all costs associated with email communication, answering a call or handling a contact in person. A face-to-face contact is nearly fifty times more expensive than online!
One example of this in practice is Council Tax payments. If not paying by councils’ preferred option of Direct Debit, residents can now pay online, which significantly reduces the administrative and paperwork costs to the council once the customer’s payment via cheque has been delivered. It also reduces the number of calls to the contact centre with queries or to make the payments, which can improve efficiency and reallocate resources that could be better used elsewhere.
One of the ways local authorities can improve and personalise services is also through the use of mobile applications and a number of cities across the UK are already encouraging its councils to embrace technologies of this nature. For example, The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is one of the latest London boroughs to ‘go digital’ and adopt cashless mobile parking, by encouraging the use of our PayByPhone app. Using the app, customers can pay for parking on their mobile without having the stress of worrying about whether they have the correct change. They even have the ability to top up the parking meter remotely via the app, if they need more time.
As well as making urban mobility more efficient for drivers, cities nationwide such as Brighton & Hove have reported savings of a quarter of a million pounds a year, by implementing innovative mobile technology and replacing almost half of their costly Pay & Display (P&D) machines.
We are seeing natural inflection points around adoption as more councils remove these machines, absorb convenience fees and remove cash boxes to encourage greater use of cashless payments. This not only enables councils to make more money per transaction and save money through lower maintenance, servicing and collection costs, but it gives consumers the ease and convenience of topping up remotely, receiving an e-receipt and reducing the chance of getting a parking fine.
As we move into a mobile era, councils should be looking at ways to further get behind digital solutions, harness it and drive more revenue through consumer self-service. Extending these technologies deeper throughout their services and operations not only saves time for councils and reduces costs, but also improves the customer experience – letting them pay in a way that suits them best. Having an online platform enables local authorities to engage with digital natives and modernise the UK economy. The local councils that embrace this new digital age will see the potential to interact with citizens more effectively as well as, ultimately, improving their levels of efficiency.
Sarah Musselbrook/ Louise Watson
020 7592 1200
PayByPhone is part of PayPoint plc, an international leader in payment technologies. PayPoint’s solutions transform payments for everyone from consumer and financial services companies to retailers, utilities, media, e-commerce, gaming and government clients. PayPoint delivers payments and services by taking the complexity of multi-channel payments and translating it into convenient, simple, value-added solutions covering online, mobile and retail channels. It handles approximately £22 billion from over 800 million transactions annually for more than 6,000 clients and merchants.
PayPoint’s Mobile and Online business handles over 142 million payments for parking, payments and consumer services. In countries such as the UK, Canada, USA, France, Switzerland and Australia, PayByPhone makes it easy for people to pay for parking by mobile, as well as providing electronic parking permits, personalized parking, automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) systems for car parks and penalty charge notices. PayByPhone is used by 10 million users across 300 cities.
PayPoint’s core online payments platform is linked to 16 major acquiring banks in the UK, Europe and North America, delivering secure credit and debit card payments for almost 4,800 online merchants. Its suite of products ranges from transaction gateway to a bureau service, in addition to value-added services, including advanced technology that mitigates the risk of fraud in card not present transactions.