Hand Ready to Swipe Card at Parking Meter (Close-Up)By Renee Smith, JD, MBA

Parking owners and operators shouldn’t shy away from EMV conversion; they just need to look north for guidance. Owners and operators across Canada went through the process a decade ago, so they’ve already experienced the growing pains and overcome the challenges.

PIN entry for chip-enabled cards takes just a few seconds longer than older payment methods, but these delays can cause a chain reaction all the way to the exits of busy parking lots and garages. Even if slower transactions are more perception than reality, that perception can influence drivers’ decisions about whether to park in a given facility in the future. Owners and operators who are affected by these issues can find themselves at a competitive disadvantage against facilities that have managed to overcome them.

One solution is to replace pay-in-lane systems with pay-on-foot equipment. This provides a significant customer service amenity and reduces queuing at the exits and associated vehicle emissions.

For facilities that need to accept payment at exit gates or for owners who want to further enhance the customer experience at pay-on-foot kiosks, the solution can be found in revenue control equipment that can accept payment via near-field communication (NFC) technology. NFC has become more common in the U.S. with the introduction of Apple Pay, Google Wallet, and other payment services that allow customers to pay with the mere wave of a cell phone or other device. Unfortunately, most of the chip cards that have been issued by U.S. banks during the past year do not feature NFC technology, but even the banks are certain to adapt in the coming years. In the meantime, drivers can use their smartphones to make quick, secure payment.

While the parking industry has been slow to adapt to the brave new world of EMV, the transition has begun. The City of Little Rock, Ark., recently became the first city in the U.S. to offer EMV unattended parking in municipal garages. Little Rock’s consultants relied heavily on the lessons learned in Canada during the past 10 years, and the transition has gone seamlessly.

Renee Smith, JD, MBA is president and CTO of Parking BOXX.