When luxury becomes necessity — Is COVID-19 the tipping point for contactless parking payments?

By Michael Back

Contactless infrastructure has been in place for years but until now, consumers have not embraced this technology on a broad scale. As a result, parking operations have offered it inconsistently across the board. The tides are changing – but will it be a tsunami?

The climate around coronavirus has drawn particularly close attention to the cleanliness and safety associated with both cash and the high-touch payment technology that we use every day — from ATMs to retail pin pads to parking infrastructure. The new consumer hypersensitivity around previously simple conveniences of modern-day life will need to be re-examined post COVID-19.

Let’s start by considering just how unhygienic — and as a direct result — unsafe cash and high-touch payment technology happens to be:

We have known for years that banknotes harbour the perfect environment for microbes to settle.  Past studies have shown that bills carry more than 3,000 types of bacteria including E. coli, Salmonella, and Staphylococcus aureus. But as the world comes together to stop the spread of COVID-19, what’s new is that governments are starting to undertake strong measures to alleviate coronavirus transmission via cash handling — China is disinfecting and locking away used banknotes, while the Bank of Korea is heating banknotes, and in some cases, burning the bills. In addition, the Bank of Korea will no longer handle the exchange of coins and banknotes that have been introduced from abroad.

Another powerful recommendation in the move away from cash comes from the World Health Organization, which has urged the population to avoid cash and to use contactless payments to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.  In an April 2020 study, The Lancet Microbe looked at how long the coronavirus lasts on various surfaces. Among their discoveries was that the…

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