Cashless & Contactless payments in parking facilities

Cashless & Contactless payments enable motorists to access and exit a parking facility using their payment card, just as they would check in and out of public transport. Consumers now consider card payments intuitive and often prefer contactless, because it’s quick, safe and easy.

This contemporary way of paying for parking enhances the customer experience; at the same time, it makes our payment transaction systems future proof.

The maximum amount for contactless payments in car parks is €50 instead of the €25 limit set by the banks for retail transactions.

Naturally, on accessing the car park, a motorist can still take a traditional paper ticket and pay by cash or card at a Pay-on-Foot machine before driving to the exit.

What are the advantages?

Top three advantages for the customer:

  • Customers use their debit or credit card1, or phone to enter and exit car park
  • Customers save time as they don’t have to go to the Pay-on-Foot machine
  • No paper ticket to lose

Customers clearly like paying by card. Since we implemented cashless and contactless payments at our car parks in the Netherlands the ratios have shifted from 80% cash to more than 80% card transactions.

Top three advantages for the landlord and car park operator:

  • All payment options open
  • Safer – less cash at the car park
  • Fewer breakdowns and reduced maintenance costs for barriers and machines

How does it work?

Dip&Go and Tap&Go readers are installed in the PMS machines at the entrance and exit points. Customers need not worry about security as any sensitive card information is presented only to the secure reader. The transaction process is very quick, it takes about 4 seconds. When it is complete the barrier opens and the customer enters or exits the car park with the bank card as ticket.

What if something goes wrong?

All Q-Park car parks are connected to the Q-Park Control Room (QCR). If a customer needs assistance at the entrance, exit or when at the Pay-on-Foot machine, they can call the QCR using the contact button. The QCR staff are available 24/7 and are trained to help customers who have a problem in the car park. If the barrier doesn’t open, the customer may just have got a different card out of their wallet from the one they used to enter the facility. The system allows a customer to pay with an alternative card.

Is it popular with customers?

Yes, card payments are on the increase and many young people don’t even carry cash any more. Within six months of introducing the new payment options in our car parks we had more than a million contactless transactions.

To ensure success, we make thorough preparations before we introduce Cashless & Contactless payments to a parking facility. We place posters in prominent places and distribute flyers in advance. During peak periods in the first few days, we use a ‘meet & greet’ team to help motorists with their first cashless parking transaction.

What are the benefits?

This popular cashless & contactless payment solution makes our payment processing future proof. And soon it will even make parking paperless. Cashless and paperless parking transactions make parking facilities safer and cheaper to operate.

Card payments are much cheaper than cash payments, even though the payments services provider charges a fee per transaction. There is no need to:

  • empty cash from the machine
  • deposit cash at the bank
  • purchase change

Furthermore, there is less wear and tear on the machines, less vandalism and no temptation for fraud with cash.

All these developments reduce the total investment and cost of ownership of the parking management system, making a cashless & contactless barrier system even viable in smaller car parks. Some car parks are even ‘cards only’.

Making a virtue out of a necessity

This innovative solution was recognised by the parking industry and won the European Parking Association award for Innovative schemes in parking in 2017. The solution is the product of necessity – changes to rules and regulations in the payment card industry – and opportunity – the introduction of EMV2 and contactless payment technology.

The information usually printed on the ticket is ‘tokenised’ in combination with the payment card credentials. The payment terminal at the barrier translates all this into a ‘card token’ which serves as the identifier to the PMS application.

All Q-Park parking facilities are connected to a dedicated communications network. This network is also used to send the card transactions securely to the payment services provider.

Is the contactless payment limit enough?

During the development and testing phase an increase to amount for transactions without PIN was negotiated. For parking transactions, this limit has been increased from €25 (or equivalent in other European currencies) to €50. So even if the customer stays all day and their parking fee is more than €25, there’s no need to enter a PIN at the barrier.

EPA Award Winner 2017

Category 4 - Innovative schemes in parking

  1. We also accept loyalty and fuel cards as well as Yellowbrick
  2. EMV = Europay MasterCard Visa. A technical standard for smart payment cards and for payment terminals and automated teller machines that can accept them. EMV cards are smart cards that store their data on integrated circuits in addition to magnetic stripes. These include cards that must be physically inserted (or dipped) into a reader and contactless cards that can be tapped near a reader as they can be read over a very short range.