When mobile payment apps launched in South Africa, I started using them because I love the convenience of it – never mind not worrying about carrying cash around, but you didn’t even need your wallet. The only thing I needed cash for was to pay for parking.
But that’s about to change with the revamped KaChing parking app, available on both Android and iPhone, and ‘coming soon’ to Windows Mobile. KaChing is a ticketless, cashless parking app that works with license plate recognition technology at supported shopping centres.
What this means is you drive to a mall, enter through the boom gates, which open automatically after reading your license plate, and you’re in. When it’s time to leave, with all your shopping, you just head straight back to your car and drive off, without worrying about fumbling for your parking ticket and some change to pay for it. Upon exit, your license plate would be read again, and boom gates will open.
This scenario is exactly what I experienced at Melrose Arch for the media launch of KaChing parking app earlier this week. I entered and there was no pausing or hesitation, as my license plate was on the system when I signed up to the service. It felt a bit weird not winding my window down, pressing a button and taking a ticket. By the time I exited Melrose Arch, it felt great, like an achievement was unlocked. I never have to pay for parking again here!
Thinking about shopping bags in my hand, long queues, people upfront taking FOREVER to pay, and then when you get to the front, you have to insert a coin like 10 times before it accepts it – this could be over for good. Well, it all depends on how quickly it can get rolled out to my favourite shopping centres. At the moment, it’s available at three locations in Johannesburg: Melrose Arch, Morningside Shopping Centre and Campus Square. It will be rolling out to Thrupps Centre in Illovo and The Pavilion in Durban by the end of Feb, early March.
Payments work via topping up your account through prepaid vouchers (issued by KaChing), or via credit/cheque card. KaChing says they are looking at working with retail partners to sell vouchers.
The best part about the app – it’s free to use! Previously, up until the revamped and updated version available this week, it came with a service fee monthly, or per transaction (also linked to Discovery as a benefit). So glad to see KaChing dropped these fees and it’s completely free to use. I cannot think of a reason why anybody who frequents Melrose Arch or Morningside Shopping Centre would not want to sign up! Life-changing.
For those of you who go to the gym at Melrose Arch, you can make use of the QR Code scanning option to validate your free 2 hour parking at the gym. Just tap the live camera scan button (top right, next to notification bell) and scan the code; and you won’t pay upon exit. This feature will be rolled out to centres that validate parking in the future.
If you sign up and head to one of these centres and find that the boom gates don’t open for you, just open the app and use the QR Code scanner option, you may have already seen the KaChing stickers at these centres anyway, on the ticket machines.
What I would like to see is this service rolled out in Sandton City, because let’s face it, their existing system sucks and needs to be re-looked at (have a friend who has boycotted Sandton City since last year due to these continuous problems) and just about every mall should get it (Rosebank Mall, The Zone, Hyde Park, Eastgate).
I asked KaChing about privacy (because they will have our basic info and license plate) and whether they will provide any info to the malls about users activities (length of visit and frequency); and they’ve assured me that no personal info will be handed over.
PARK FOR FREE
Yes, there’s something in for you too (and me)! If you’re on Android or iPhone (coming soon to Windows Mobile), you can download the app from www.kachingparking.com and register. On the sign up page you can enter a referral code; just add “NAFISA” here, and you will get your first parking free. Why not head to Melrose Arch (or Moningside Shopping Centre) and try it for yourself!
Welcome to Wired to the Web. My name is Nafisa Akabor and I’m a technology journalist covering business and consumer tech for the last 13 years. I’m passionate about start-ups, smartphones, mobile payments, travel tech and electric cars. ✉️ firstname.lastname@example.org