Trouble in Paradise for Mobile Parking Payments

Oct. 7, 2013

Within the payments industry, the idea that U.S. consumers will turn to their mobile devices to make payments is near to gospel. True believers point to the success enjoyed by Starbucks and high-profile mobile wallet tests taking place around the country. While PayPal and others report considerable percentage gains in the number of mobile transactions they are processing, the overall number of transaction remains low. Now, news out of Honolulu provides one more data point that consumers simply are not yet ready to pull their phones out when they need to make payments.

The Hawaiian city installed new parking meters in many locations in the spring and summer of 2012 that accepted credit cards, debit cards and mobile payments. Recently, municipal government decided to disable the mobile function of the meters. City officials said the significant battery power necessary for cellular data transmission was causing operational issues for many of the meters. Given that less than one percent of parking payments made at the meters were via mobile devices, the city deemed it easier to discontinue the pay-by-phone function than address the power problems posed by mobile payments. The meters will continue to accept card payments.