Payments Innovation

Meter Feeder Lets Consumers Pay Via GPS

Who has time to pay for parking meters? Clunky change, dipping cards, pressing buttons — no thank you. The drivers of the future are paying for their meters — how else? — with an app.

According to a recent article by TechCrunch, Meter Feeder is a mobile app that uses your smartphone’s built-in GPS to detect your location and allows you to pay for your parking space by entering your license plate and a credit card stored in your Apple or Android device’s payment functionality. How does the app pinpoint your location? Well, it doesn’t have to. Meter Feeder only needs to get you in the right price zone, not the exact spot you’ve pulled into.

In order for Meter Feeder to work, the city using it has to adopt the technology. But Meter Feeder has that end covered: Parking enforcement officers are armed with a tablet that comes fully equipped with a program that allows them to search for license plates and see if a car has already paid. If not, according to TechCrunch, they can instantly print a ticket via the mobile printer that also comes with the app’s hardware. The tickets come complete with a QR code that makes it easier for the offending driver to pay the fine online simply.

Meter Feeder’s founders, James Gibbs and Dan Lopretto, told TechCrunch that the idea was inspired by a friend who had “tickets exploding out of her purse.” Their goal, they say, is “to make the world of parking less painful.”

Many cities have already adopted newer credit card-enabled parking meters, but these solutions are not always cost-effective to implement. As TechCrunch points out, many smaller cities are priced out of options like PayByPhone, Pango and ParkMobile, which make the payment systems, and t2, Duncan and United Parking Safety, which handle enforcement.

For example, Lopretto tells TechCrunch, a town with 250 metered parking spaces would pay around $100,000 to replace their meters with the most popular options. But it would cost merely $3,000 to enable Meter Feeder, Lopretto says. The startup handles most of the implementation costs, which are minimal, while the cities end up paying for the “enforcement kits” only, which come to roughly $1,500 a piece — that includes a seven-inch tablet, mobile ticket printer, paper supply and Internet connectivity.

The upside is big for cities, who actually earn more revenue when you pay for your parking versus those pesky tickets. And, for drivers, it’s certainly simpler to pay for the parking upfront and not have to deal with tickets. Eventually, TechCrunch notes, Meter Feeder is looking to expand its services to help drivers find available parking but only in a way that doesn’t encourage phone use while driving, the company says. That’s an even bigger win for drivers.

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