Gemalto enables motorists in Marseille to pay for parking via SMS text message

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France’s second largest city, Marseille, has introduced a new system that allows drivers to pay for car parking using a simple SMS text message from their cell phone.

Netherlands-based digital security and services developer Gemalto is deploying its innovative Netsize Operator Billing platform, which enables motorists in Marseille to pay precisely for time spent in a parking bay, simply by sending an SMS text message when they enter, and another one when they leave. Gemalto was selected by Franco-Swiss parking services company IEM (Ingenierie Electronique et Monetique) to provide the payment element of its TIMO software system for SAGS Marseille, the body delegated to manage Marseille’s on-street car parking. Gemalto leverages its skills in digital security and mobile telephony to securely manage the SMS flow and enable the direct debit of time-based payments from customers’ mobile phone bills.

The new cashless payment service for parking is available from any type of cell phone, without having to pre-register or download an application. Motorists text their vehicle’s registration number to a short code number as soon as they park. When they leave, the message ‘END’ is sent to the same number. The cost of the parking ticket is thenadded to the user’s cell phone bill at the end of the month. Traffic wardens in the city are equipped with PDAs (Personal Digital Assistant) that enable them to verify instantly that payment has been made by entering a vehicle’s registration number into the handset. Gemalto says its Netsize platform opens the gateway to a potential market of two billion consumers and three billion devices that are now able to perform such transactions, via 160 connected mobile networks in over 50 different countries worldwide.

“Gemalto has in-depth expertise and experience across all the relevant areas: SMS payments, operator billing, and real-time services,” said Philippe Menoud, director of IEM. “We also plan to expand this solution across our international markets, so Gemalto’s global reach will provide a perfect platform for these ambitious goals.”

Benoit Bole, senior vice president of Netsize at Gemalto, commented, “Once again SMS is proving its ability to reach the broadest possible audience, and deliver a service in line with a mobile-centered world. TIMO spells an end to lost tickets, delays at barriers, the struggle to find the right change, and manage expired meters. Providers enjoy a seamless, electronic sales channel that avoids the need to manage and maintain vulnerable terminals and infrastructure.”

Gemalto has recently expanded the use across the entire public transport network of the greater Helsinki metropolitan area in Finland, where the company has been working with HSL, Helsinki’s public transport operator, since 2012, with the SMS text payment service previously available for the city’s central inner area.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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