Parking remains a relatively small spend for most users (on a daily basis at least) and despite the emergence of multiple cashless options – from stored value cards to contactless and account based ticketing – no one is predicting the demise of cash fulfilment anytime soon.

However, there are strong signs that the contactless revolution is gaining traction, spurred on by the desire of banks to optimize the operational efficiencies of this methodology and by growing customer confidence in using bank cards to ‘tap and go’ for small value payments. And for the more cyber savvy ‘generation M’, parking services paid for via Apps, Apple Pay, Android Pay, PayPal and online subscription accounts (where available) are part of a lifestyle choice to make access to parking as easy as paying for music through iTunes.

There are also good reasons why scheme owners and operators prefer customers to use contactless payments, such as lower operational costs associated with maintaining terminals and collecting and reconciling cash payments.

However, as we look at the wider payments landscape, what we need to listen to is the end-user voice when it comes to preferences.

According to the UK Cards Association, there are now over 100m contactless cards in circulation, accounting for over £3bn in spend in December 2016 alone. This trend is confirmed by recent analysis by Parkeon, which shows that where multiple options are available, the convenience offered to motorists via contactless and cashless payments is increasingly in demand.

Of course, parking systems’ technology and control go hand in hand with revenue collection, and in the case of a recent ticketless ANPR system installed by Parkeon across a number of sites in one local authority area – each with multiple payment options – cash accounted for around 38% of the transactions, contactless and chip & pin about 43%, and online accounts and apps just under 20%.

Key to this high level of cashless uptake was a very successful marketing campaign which highlighted the convenience of both the ANPR system (drive in, drive out, no queues to pay etc) and the availability of multiple payment options.

In this instance, what has been particularly interesting, aside from the popularity of contactless, is the enthusiasm for account-based transactions within the local community, which tends to suggest growing consumer appetite for the digital fulfilment of parking.

One leading consultancy has predicted that 20% of all consumer payments will be digital by 2021 – that’s around four times more than today – with just over half via touch-and-go using smart devices. Who knows whether this will turn out to be the case, but what is certainly true is that in the hubbub of a constantly evolving payments landscape, it is those solutions that offer security along with the value of convenience for consumers that will ultimately win out.

Article written by David Lloyd, Marketing Manager, Parkeon