Payment for parking represents the main function offered by parking meter: it is a task that must be on one hand very quick and simple for the end-user and, on the other hand, it must guarantee that each payment is correct.
The payment methods made available to the customer must be studied accurately to ensure that each transaction is rapid and secure.
Payment can be performed mainly using three different techniques:
- prepaid cards
- credit cards
Cash represents a classic payment method and is immediately available to all end users of the service.
This type of payment requires the use of coins of a particular currency: considering the typical cost of parking, only coins are handled and not bills.
The coin reader of a parking meter is capable of recognizing a certain number of coins types. A typical system recognizes a certain number of coin sizes (for example seven) and currencies (for example to), for total of 14 different coin types.
A parking meter must be capable of correctly recognizing different coins so that it can assign the correct economic value, and it does so thanks to the coin reader with which it is equipped.
During a transaction, coins are stored in a temporary box from which they can be returned should the ticket not be dispensed for what ever reason, for example in the case that a user cancels the transaction or if there is a printing error when attempting to dispense the ticket.
Once the coins are recognized, the handling of cash requires the calculation of the amount given and consequently, based on the applied rates at the time of parking, the calculation of the expected parking duration.
Because of the parking meters logic, the return of change is not usually contemplated: King required to have cash available in the exact amount required by the parking rates represents a typical problem for a driver that requires the service.
The other problem with this method of payment is that the system administrator must periodically proceed to collecting the coins from the single parking meters, by means of trained personnel.
To solve these negative aspects, other payment methods are also used.
Prepaid cards are special cards (contactless), issued by the system owner and are preloaded with a specific amount and are therefore used until empty.
The user then deducts the required value from the amount left on the card for each parking until there is no more credit left.
In this case, the parking meter can also be used for adding credit to the prepaid cards by using the coin reader with which it is equipped and with the same principles described previously for cash payments.
The use of prepaid cards on one hand removes the need for users to have coins and, on the other hand, it can allow the introduction of other services to make it easier for the customer or increase his or her loyalty.
Prepaid cards can be anonymous, but the can also be assigned to specific users or vehicles, or even to specific categories of users which, for example, may have special benefits such as discounts on the applied rates, or subscriptions for residents.
This method of payment has doubtless advantages for users who therefore no longer need to have coins with them and can make payments in a quick and secure way. However, it presumes that the driver is a regular user and has already been provided with the card: prepaid cards obviously cannot be the only method of payment available to drivers.
Another method of payment is is the use of bank cards.
Though there may be peculiar aspects depending on local laws, it is a system that connects to the classic payment circuits of the most important credit card companies, and it offers, therefore, a high level of security.
Un ulteriore metodo di pagamento è rappresentato dalle carte bancarie.
With bank cards, the technologies and methods available are many: the card can be contactless or a chip card, it may or may not require a PIN number, for a greater level of security, it can operate online or off-line.
To use this method of payment, the parking meter is equipped with a terminal that must be certified according to local laws, so as to guarantee that all transactions occur in a secure way for the end-user.