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Brands at the Point of Transaction

Bel Air: credit cards accepted at this branded parking meter

Credit card brands appearing directly on this Beverly Hills parking meter.

Most of us will have grown used to parking meters being an everyday part of our urban experience: something to feed; occasionally bump into; lean on; and on occasion when the people in uniforms are nowhere to be seen – joyfully hit. Despite it taking our coins we tend not to think of it as a point of sale terminal, it’s simply too mechanical, too unreliable to be thought as such. Until now.

Now, the mere presence of the credit card brands stickered to its surface brings the transactional side of its functionality into sharp focus, the pedestrian part of our streets have just become a little bit more commercial.

A couple of ways this might evolve: the credit card company logos make a break from the confines of the shop door frames and continue their assault on our urban infrastructure – eventually becoming more ubiquitous than, well the humble parking meter; over time the stickers are removed because everybody learns that parking meters accept these two brands of credit card; and/or they popularise the use of parking meters as surface on which to tag/sticker graffiti.

Most people assume that touch based payment systems such as MasterCard’s PayPass simplify the purchase process – you just Tap & Go ®. Except that the user still needs to know where to tap before they go and that there are now, and nearly always will be competitors offering similar touch based payment solutions at the same point of sale. The confusion comes from knowing which to touch, and the visual polution to our urban landscapes.

Expect to see more stickers for competing services added to this parking meter in the years to come.

Enjoy it whilst you can, parking meters will eventually go the way of the phone booth.