This Company Controls Revenue, Collects Data, Runs Without Hardware, and Does It Quick
With a Ph.D. in computer science from Cambridge, a B.S. from Stanford and a former role as a NASA scientist, Pell brings a rich history to his company. In addition to his position as QuickPay CEO, he is a repeat entrepreneur, angel investor, and has held advisory roles and served as a board member in many startup companies across a variety of industries.
“When venture capitalists [VCs] look to invest, they look at the company’s founders. Have they done this before? Have they been successful? VCs then look at the market. Does the product or service bring anything new or is it simply ‘me too?’”
Validated by investments from technology leaders and key players in the automotive industry, such as Fontinalis Partners (co-founded by Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford), Pell and QuickPay passed those tests.
“The parking business is fragmented,” Pell said. “Parking customers are required to deal with a myriad of companies, types of equipment and methods when they park their cars. In one city, a driver could be presented with a parking meter taking coin or credit cards, a pay-by-phone service, pay-by-space, pay-and-display, pay-by-honor-box, pay-on-exit at a cashier and pay-on-foot. Our goal is to bring all payment options together in one, easy-to-use application.”
QuickPay enables a parker to park anywhere that has the QP QuickPay sign, whether on-street, off-street or in a controlled or uncontrolled parking facility. No matter what technology the parker has in their hand, whether a run-of-the-mill feature phone or the top-of-the-line iPhone or Android-based smartphone, they can park in a QP QuickPay location.
“If you need to find a parking space, tell your phone where you are going. Through your on-board GPS, the app knows where you are, knows where parking locations are near your destination, and gives you real-time information about pricing, availability and other pertinent information.
“When you arrive, you quickly scan the QR Code at the facility entry on your phone. The system does the rest. It contacts the cloud-based application, notes your location and arrival time, and sends a signal to the garage to open the gate and let you in. All within seconds. When you leave, you reverse the process, and the system notes your departure and sends you an email receipt of the parking fees that have been charged to your credit card on file.”
(As with all such systems, you must sign up in advance. You can do that from your smartphone, by interactive voice response, by text message or from your computer at home. Once signed up, you can park at any QP QuickPay location, anywhere.)
If you don’t use a smartphone, you can dial in or text the location number, and the system will handle the transaction in the same manner.
For uncontrolled or honor box locations, the procedure is the same; however, the system then notes to the operator that you are parked and provides your vehicle license number to enforcement staff on their smartphones, tablets or enforcement devices. The system allows uncontrolled and honor lots to have variable rates to fit the market requirements with no additional equipment.
QuickPay provides online tools for the operator to access the system’s database and provides a myriad of information about the parker, including their parking history, times of usage and demographic information. The operator can then use this information to market their locations, much the same as online retailers market to potential customers.
“If you note that a number of customers park at times that relate to an event that occurs regularly near your facility,” Pell said, “you can contact them by text or email and offer special rates or reservations for their convenience.”
Another example would be what he called “lost customer analysis.”
”We can find the parkers that used to frequent a specific parking facility but have not been seen for a couple months. These are valuable customers that any parking operator would like to get back. With QuickPay’s help, an operator can now find those lost customers and, even better, communicate with them to find out why they left and entice them to come back.
“We have a universal solution and are equipment agnostic. QP QuickPay works with all control equipment,” Pell said. “We thought about parking like business owners. We see this becoming a more mature industry, with marketing to and attracting customers, both on- and off-street, becoming the way of the future.”
In an on-street environment, the parker scans a QR Code on a sign at the parking space, or if available, uses a “near-field communication” tap to capture the information on their cellphone. As with uncontrolled off-street, if the user had more than one vehicle in the database, they are asked to select the vehicle they are driving. If they are riding with someone else, they can pay for their parking by entering that vehicle’s license number.
The system can remind a parker if they are running out of time and offer to allow them to add more time if desired, without having to return to their vehicle. It can also tell the driver where their car is parked and direct them to it if they are lost.
QP QuickPay also works in tandem with valet operations. The driver scans the QR Code at the valet station, and the charges, even the valet’s tip, are collected. The driver can call for his car with a text message.
“As vehicles become more connected with information technology [IT] built in, the need to use phones for parking will wane,” Pell said. “With IT in cars, parking issues fade into the background. You will set your destination and be directed to the nearby parking facility. You will park, do your business, and leave. No gates, no phones, nothing. You will receive a record of your parking and charges if any.
“There will still be access control and enforcement systems, but the rest of the machines, equipment and computers we see today will migrate to the cloud and the mobile devices or simply go away.”
John Van Horn is Editor of Parking Today. Contact him at
QP QuickPay Application
As part of a comprehensive infrastructure upgrade, this partnership provides Salt Lake City drivers with more convenient access to parking and more parking payment options than ever before, according to a QuickPay press release.
The QuickPay platform is designed to facilitate the implementation of innovative programs such as parking loyalty plans, coupons, dynamic pricing, automated validations from local businesses, and more.
Salt Lake City has replaced more than 2,100 single-space, coin-operated meters with a modern, cost-effective solution comprising Aparc’s enforcement and management software and multi-space paystations and the QuickPay mobile payment platform. This makes it faster and easier for drivers to find and pay for parking, the press release said. The system also should improve enforcement and provide greatly enhanced parking data and reporting to city officials, the release said.
“Mobile parking payments bring a new level of convenience and ease of use — especially over the old coin-operated meters— and will streamline the parking and payment process for downtown parkers,” said Robin Hutcheson, the city’s Transportation Director. “QuickPay is well-aligned with our city-wide initiative around mobile commerce. We’re excited to take advantage of the advanced features the platform offers.”
Parkers have the option to pay using coin or credit card at the new pay-by-space meters, and via smartphone using the free mobile application. Parkers can simply tap or scan the QP QuickPay sign with their smartphones and be on their way. Users can even receive expiration notifications automatically and add time remotely, subject to parking limitations.
“We designed QP QuickPay into the overall solution because it was the best fit for Salt Lake City’s requirements and integrates seamlessly with our payment, enforcement and management systems,” said Aparc VP Timothy Dougan. “On top of that, QuickPay offers features and functionality that no other vendor can match.”
“The ability to easily find and pay for parking overcomes one of the most frustrating aspects of driving in any major city,” said Barney Pell, Chairman and CEO of QuickPay. “The forward-looking government of Salt Lake City is demonstrating its commitment to merchants and residents alike by implementing innovative new parking services, including mobile payments with QP QuickPay.”