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Or:  there’s gold in them-thar smartphones.

Vancouver tech company “PayByPhone” has a new owner – Volkswagen Financial Services AG. Thanks to Tyler Orton at Business In Vancouver for the tip.

A 2001 startup, the company’s service is now used by approx. 2M people in Vancouver, at over 13,000 parking meters.  Worldwide, PayByPhone has 12.5M users and handles around $300M in payments per year. Paris alone uses the service on 155,000 parking spaces.

paybyphone

Motor vehicle operators can use it to pay tolls on the Port Mann Bridge.

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Kush Parikh

From TechCrunch:   “It is important to make the distinction that it is Volkswagen Financial Services (VWFS) who acquired us, and they have a charter to focus on general mobility services,” said PayByPhone CEO Kush Parikh in an email interview. “Outside of being the largest parking payment provider, the key asset we bring to the table is the relationship we have via our flagship mobile applications with our users. The mobile relationship is a one to one relationship that can extend into a myriad of additional services.”

. . . .  The company already has a program in London where license plates are coordinated with a user account when the car arrives in a lot, and then the user is charged for her parking time when she leaves. “[This] can quite easily be extended into the autonomous vehicle movement,” Kush said.

PayByPhone’s expansion hasn’t been hindered so much by its ability to scale as by an entrenched parking industry “that continues to hold on to archaic cash and credit card based systems, which are very capital intensive,” as Kush put it. PayByPhone does expect that VWFS’s investment will help the company expand into new countries.

Kush noted that while the company will be focused on making parking payments as seamless as possible, they do have an eye on the future. “Parking is a great way to attract users where their identities can be used for a myriad of additional services, including movement around cities (aka smart cities) and distributing our service into any application, such as mapping and travel applications.”