The parking “pay by phone” market is heating up in the US, with app developers closing deals with municipalities and counties all over the country for implementation of their parking solution. So far, based on market share, the leader is Israel’s Pango – and as a sign of investors’ faith in the company, and in the business model, Pango several weeks ago locked up an additional round of financing, raising an additional $6.5 million that will enable it to expand its services to additional cities in the US and elsewhere.
Pango, along with other similar services (such as PayByPhone, a UK service that recently closed a deal in Galveston, Texas), are the leading edge of a technology that will eventually be adopted all over the country, said Mark Fischer, CEO of Bearing Capital, which led the Pango funding round. “We understand that the parking industry and consumers alike are ripe for change to implement new and more convenient parking payment systems,” said Fischer. “We have witnessed how use of the Pango platform changes the parking experience of drivers in a meaningful way and are excited to join Pango as we roll out this platform on a broad scale.”
The Pango app allows drivers to pay for parking at street meters and in parking lots in dozens of cities across the US – with the company recently closing a deal with the biggest pay-for-parking market in the country, New York City. This after having been implemented in several countries in Europe, including Germany, Poland, Greece, the Czech Republic – and in Israel, of course.
Drivers using Pango to park activate the app, which determines their location. Using a built-in database, the app turns on an on-phone “meter,” registering the car with a municipal database. Parking enforcement officials who check meters and give out citations for vehicles parked in spaces with expired meters query the database, and “pass over” vehicles that have the Pango app running. Upon returning to their vehicle and ending the “parking event,” drivers are told how much they owe, and the sum is added to their cellphone bill, to be collected later on by the parking enforcement agency.
The system is very convenient for drivers, who no longer have to schlep around coins and “feed the meter” every couple of hours, but it also carries the risks inherent in any mobile app that involves payments. So to alleviate the possibility that hackers could get into a user’s account and get their personal details, Pango has a number of anti-hacking features, from secure (128-bit SSL) encryption to voice access via caller ID and/or PIN code. That’s been enough to satisfy cautious municipal officials, the company said; Pango is currently in use in 47 cities worldwide, serving more than 800,000 active accounts, and processing approximately 2 million transactions monthly.
In the US, Pango has recently launched its service Alexandria, Virginia and Scranton, Pennsylvania, with on-street/municipal cellular parking services, and in New York City in private garages.
“Cities and private parking operators are adopting the Pango Platform at light speed because they see the tangible results provided by the service: consumer convenience, increased revenues, reduced costs, and real time parking information,” said Neil Edwards, President of Pango. “The Bearing Capital investment along with the continued support of our existing shareholders provides the resources required to facilitate an expedited expansion platform across North America.”