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PayByPhone helps millions of people avoid parking tickets

PayByPhone sends 2+ million time-sensitive text messages per month to notify customers about expiring parking meters & avoid fines.

The Results
Reduction in SMS costs
SMS notifications sent
Parking payments processed

Finding a good parking spot is difficult enough without worrying about your time running out. PayByPhone uses Twilio’s reliable SMS pipeline to send users alerts warning them of expiring meters, saving them from costly parking tickets.

Improving user experience drives innovation

The leading provider of mobile payments to the parking industry, PayByPhone is modernizing old-school parking meters with a reliable and secure cashless payment system that simplifies everyday parking. The company removes the hassle of carrying coins and feeding the meter, enabling motorists in hundreds of cities and towns throughout North America, Europe, and Australia to easily pay parking meters from a mobile app.

Initially, PayByPhone used an IVR-based payment method to handle account set-up, transactions, and confirmation of meter location and time needed. SMS reminders also started out this way. Five minutes before the parking expired, a user would get a text message, after which they could call back in via the PayByPhone system to extend their time. However, this approach required integration with multiple SMS suppliers using SMPP protocol and direct management of these relationships—a complex, time consuming, and expensive endeavor. SMS is an incredibly effective delivery mechanism, but PayByPhone needed a more cost-effective, efficient solution.

Quick notifications make long-lasting impact

PayByPhone uses Twilio SMS to send one-way notifications to motorists 5 minutes before their parking time expires, allowing them to add time without returning to their vehicle, and therefore avoid parking tickets. The mobile payments system determines if a transaction requires a reminder, calls the Twilio API, and sends an SMS alert to the user. The user can easily add minutes and increase time, straight from their phone, to deflect a parking ticket.

“Twilio delivers a very reliable SMS pipeline that ensures we get alerts out to users,” said Chris Morrow, head of infrastructure and IT operations at PayByPhone. “PayByPhone users love the text message reminders, which cut down on annoying parking fines and make it easy for people to add more time from anywhere without having to rush back to the meter.”

PayByPhone is also looking to expand Twilio SMS as a payment tool, as well as to power an application that helps motorists find available parking in airports.

Better service, lower operational costs, happier customers

PayByPhone turned to Twilio in 2011 to cut costs, ease the challenge of managing relationships with multiple SMS providers, and more easily integrate SMS capabilities into its platform. After switching to Twilio, PayByPhone reduced costs threefold for outbound SMS texts across the US.

Twilio also handles the time consuming, expensive task of establishing and managing complex relationships with carriers and SMS providers, so PayByPhone doesn't have to. That way, PayByPhone can focus on its core business and areas of expertise.

Additionally, Twilio can scrub out numbers with invalid formats. Lookup identifies erroneous phone number entries that don’t follow standard number structure (e.g. 404-2010-10202). “Lookup allows PayByPhone to increase the quality of consumer data gathered, and improves the consumer experience, by validating accuracy of data inputs,” says Morrow.

For larger organizations that have direct telecom relationships, it's not a big risk to switch to Twilio. In fact, it could be the best decision they could make to reduce infrastructure complexity.

Chris Morrow, Head of Infrastructure & IT Operations, PayByPhone

With some clients processing 90% of all on-street parking sessions via PayByPhone, it is the most widely used and fastest-growing mobile payments service in North America—growth that is supported by Twilio’s reliability and scalability. Twilio gives PayByPhone the ability to send SMS to 198 countries and easily purchase new short codes or phone numbers for more than 40 countries. The Twilio communications platform is well documented, straightforward to integrate, and easy to use and maintain, even for those developers who haven’t used it before.

“It’s easier to establish trust with Twilio than what you might find with a huge telecom provider,” said Morrow. “For organizations that have direct telecom relationships, it’s not a big risk to switch to Twilio. In fact, it could be the best decision they could make to reduce infrastructure complexity.”

In 2013, the PayByPhone system had throughput parking revenue of $125 million and processed 24 million parking payments. Considering that PayByPhone processes nearly 2 million SMS notifications via Twilio SMS every month, it's deflecting approximately 24 million potential parking tickets annually for a very happy customer base.