Parking meters go digital in Maryland
August 13, 2013

Cities across the U.S. are beginning to understand what small and medium-sized enterprises have known for years - consumers want to pay with plastic. Annapolis, Md., recently replaced hundreds of meters in its downtown area with smart meters that accept debit card payments and other forms of plastic. By investing in meters with credit card processing capabilities, the city hopes to see revenue increase, a rise in consumer traffic in the downtown area and a boost in shopping at local businesses.

Meters bring ease of use
The Annapolis Patch website reported more than 380 meters will be replaced with electronic ones by the end of the summer. According to local radio station WBAL, Annapolis Mayor Joshua Cohen said the new parking meters will make it more convenient for residents to go to the downtown area, as they don't have to make sure they have enough cash and coins on hand for parking. The source reported the meters will have digital screens and also accept cash and coins to provide multiple payment options for users.

Rhonda Wardlaw, a city spokesperson, said the new meters are part of a plan to increase traffic in the downtown area.

"The whole idea is to give downtown parkers more options," Wardlaw said. "We feel this will go along with the mayor's initiative to make parking easier for everyone."

Revenue increases for Annapolis and local businesses
The city hopes that giving people the ability to pay for parking with plastic will bring in more revenue for the local government and businesses. With the digital upgrades, the city is also planning to increase parking fees. However, Michael Mallinoff, the city manager, said the new system will offer pricing flexibility based on the season, instead of having a standard year-round rate.

"This is another way that we are making it easy to park and get around downtown," Cohen said, according to WBAL. "Customers and merchants alike will benefit from the convenience and the electronic data collection will enable the city to make better informed decisions about parking management."

Accepting plastic payments is essential for small businesses these days, as more consumers reach for debit or credit cards at the point of sale. Offering numerous purchasing options provides customers with the ability to buy products with their preferred payment type, increasing their satisfaction and boosting sales in the process.

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