Parking is usually a sedate activity, unless you’re competing with another driver for a rare open spot on a busy downtown street or that space closest to the grocery store’s entryway. But parking as a new market for electronic payments is a different story, with intense activity by everyone from mobile-app developers to automakers and sports and event venues.
Less than 2% of parking payments today are made through apps, according to Yona Shtern, executive chairman and chief executive of Chicago-based Arrive Inc., who cited numbers from one of the industry’s major trade associations. Arrive, developer of the ParkWhiz and BestParking apps for mobile phones, pegs the U.S. parking market at $35 billion in annual bookings, and $100 billion worldwide.
“Parking is the next frontier,” Shtern said last week at the NACHA Payments 2019 conference in Orlando, Fla., where he was the presenter in a session dubbed “Transportation in a Friction-Free, Plastic-Free World.”
Formerly known as ParkWhiz Inc., the company rebranded as Arrive in January. Its competitors include SpotHero Inc., also based in Chicago. Last year Arrive technology was used for parking 7 million vehicles, he said. The U.S. has about 40,000 off-street parking lots and garages, about 25% of which are connected with online systems, according to Arrive.
Besides the ParkWhiz and BestParking apps, Arrive is deploying its technology in a host of transportation-related venues. Companies such as GasBuddy Organization Inc., developer of the GasBuddy app for finding local stations with the cheapest gas, use Arrive on a white-label basis to enable parking payments. Arrive works with Ford Motor Co., Honda, and a number of other major automakers to integrate parking into in-dash, Web-based systems in new vehicles. The company also works with rental-car agencies, ticketing providers such as Ticketmaster, and sports stadiums, arenas, and entertainment venues to facilitate booking of and payment for parking spaces online.
Parking booking and payment is moving beyond mobile and online systems and linking up with voice commerce, according to Shtern. Amazon.com Inc.’s Alexa Fund late last year became an Arrive investor, about a year after Arrive enabled parking bookings and payments with Amazon’s Alexa voice-powered Echo and Echo Dot devices.
And as more and more connected cars hit the road, expect parking services to migrate into in-dash systems, where booking and payments will be just two features among many, according to Shtern. Meanwhile, Arrive is eyeing fleets and autonomous vehicles as potentially big emerging markets where parking-related functions will be integral.
“What all of this translates into is a major shift that we’re just beginning to see,” he said.