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Volkswagen Ups its Mobile Payments and Parking Game

car_simple_iconThe financial services arm of car manufacturer Volkswagen Group has bought parking payments firm PayByPhone, a deal that underscores the appeal of mobile payments and bolsters the automotive company’s presence in the parking transactions space.

Volkswagen did not disclose terms of the deal, under which Volkswagen Financial Services AG becomes owner of the Canada-based firm, founded in 2001. PayByPhone processes $250 million in payments annually, enabling drivers to pay for parking via its mobile app. Consumers also can use the app to extend the time needed for parking. Drivers can pay for parking via the company sWebsite or via phone calls as well. The app stores multiple payment methods and users may switch between them when paying for parking. Some 12.5 million consumers use PayByPhone, and the company said it’s adding 7,000 customers per day.

Volkswagen already owns a 92 percent stake in Sunhill Technologies GmbH, which offers similar mobile-parking services in 90 German cities. “With the acquisition of PayByPhone, we are now the leading provider for the processing and mobile payment of parking,” said Christian Dahlheim, the management board member responsible for sales and marketing at Volkswagen Financial Services AG.  “In the future, we will be bundling this know-how in a separate business field around the theme of parking.”

The car company did not detail if it would seek to integrate PayByPhone into Web-connected vehicle operating systems, but automobiles could serve as an important cog in the emerging “Internet of Things.” For instance, Ford Motor Co. is working with Amazon on a system that would enable drivers who are Amazon consumers to control garage doors and porch lights, access music, shopping and appointment lists, and perform other tasks while in their cars or their homes. The Volkswagen deal could lead to payments integrated into its cars, says Matt DeLorenzo, managing editor for automotive pricing and information service Kelley Blue Book. “It shows automakers are trying to come up with ideas of other services that could be built into the vehicles,” he says.

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