Council turns to e-commerce to boost compliance revenue

North Sydney Council has rolled out an ambitious e-commerce parking meter project worth more than $5 million for credit card- and mobile phone-enabled parking meters.

More than 380 have been deployed throughout the municipality where council estimates its parking meters account for up to two million transactions annually across its network.

The machines, purchased from Reino International, were initially rolled out in July 2004 and so far credit card payments amount to nearly 18 percent of all payment transactions.

North Sydney Council director of engineering and property services, Greg Cooper, said the council's goal is to get more people paying for parking by providing more payment options. Cooper said the goal is to increase parking revenue by about 10 percent.

The initial supply and install contract between the council and Reino was worth $2.3 million and the council has a seven-year contract for maintenance and operational expenditure worth about $780,000 annually.

The rollout of card-reading meters does not come without commensurate risk to consumers and merchants, according to the executive director of the ATM Industry Association, Jon Andreasson.

He said organizations deploying card-enabled devices needed to make themselves, and their clients, aware of the risk of card-skimming technologies. "Any device which accepts a card externally is prone to a skimming device being fitted. It's a new form of credit card payment and as such carries risk," Andreasson said.

"Organizations should ensure interfaces remain consistent when deploying such devices, because customers have expectations about how a legitimate card reader should look."

Susan Wolfe, managing director of usability research outfit The Hiser Group, expects positive takeup of such devices by users accustomed to using credit cards for most transactions.

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