Pay-by-cell-phone parking hits Toronto

Torontonians can now pay for parking using their cell phones at 29 different Imperial Parking (Impark) parking lots throughout the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

Mint Technology Corp., based in Toronto, provides the mobile phone payment service for Impark, dubbed PayMint.

Gordon Craig, vice-president of Impark in Toronto, said the company is always looking to increase the number of ways its customers can pay at its parking lots.

“We were the first ones to add pay and display, and the first to add pay-by-cell-phone in Vancouver two years ago,” Craig said.

Impark has about 500 lots — and is headquartered — in Vancouver, but only has about 60 lots in Toronto. Drivers can pay for parking using their cell phones at about 400 Impark lots in Vancouver compared with Toronto’s 29.

A major impetus behind Vancouver’s pay-by-cell-phone program was credit card fraud. In fact, Craig said the problem was so rampant in some Vancouver communities that mobile phone payment is now the only form of payment accepted at some of Impark’s locations.

To use the mobile phone payment system, users can sign up by telephone or over the Internet on Mint’s Web site,, by clicking on the PayMint Logo. Users simply have to provide their credit card information, their license plate number, plus their home telephone number and address. Users can register multiple automobiles under the same credit card and will soon be able to register more than one credit card, said Stephen Jack, director of marketing for Mint.

After registering, users can visit any Impark lot and pay just by calling the PayMint number, which is posted at each parking lot, from their mobile phone and indicating how much parking time they would like to purchase. About 30 minutes before parking time is up, PayMint sends users a text messages to notify them their time is about to expire, Jack explained. Then users have the option to call back PayMint and extend their parking time. Also, if they have purchased too much time, they can remove the excess, he added.

To ensure information isn’t intercepted, Mint uses 128-bit SSL encryption, Jack said.

Additionally, PayMint costs Impark nothing — it’s the drivers who pick up the cost. On top of paying Impark’s parking fees, users of the mobile phone payment service are charged 50 cents by Mint for each time they use the PayMint service, or $10 a month for unlimited use.

Impark can access data about its parking lots through the Web. Also, Impark’s parking lot attendants can verify that drivers have paid to park in their lots by cross-checking license plate numbers with those in the Mint database using aBlackBerries from Research in Motion Ltd.

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