SMS parking payment system debuts in Oman

ICT services and solutions provider Infocomm has launched a new parking system in Oman, which enables drivers to pay for parking facilities using short message service (SMS).

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By  Published  December 16, 2006

ICT services and solutions provider Infocomm has launched a new parking system in Oman, which enables drivers to pay for parking facilities using short message service (SMS). The firm, which provides the technology for the system, has teamed up with Oman Mobile and the Muscat Municipality to offer drivers in Oman the innovative service, which replaces the payment by coin system. Paying for parking fees through mobile phones has already been deployed in parts of the US and Europe, but Oman is the first country in the GCC and Middle East to offer the service, claimed Karim Rehamtulla, managing director of Infocomm. Using the system, the driver sends an SMS with his or her car plate number to a special number belonging to Oman Mobile. This establishes whether the user is a prepaid or postpaid subscriber and the driver is charged accordingly. Extra time can be added by the user sending a second message to the number and drivers are also sent a reminder giving them the option to renew when their allotted time is due to expire. Benefits of the service, according to Rehamtulla, include increased accuracy and speed of delivery, but its main draw is convenience. “The biggest benefit is the convenience factor for any user, you don’t need to carry any more coins,” Rehamtulla said. “You are providing a service that is leveraging on existing technology. “Everybody has a mobile phone today, it is not like introducing the service and you have got to buy a,b,c,d, you just need to use the existing phone to pay for service,” he said. As only drivers with an Oman Mobile SIM card can take advantage of the service, the SMS parking system also gives the selected mobile operator a competitive edge over its rivals, Rehamtulla noted. Although the service is still in its infancy — at present it is just offered in the capital Muscat and only in specific paid parking areas — it has already attracted a lot of interest from companies in the region, Rehamtulla said. “A lot of the ministries or government officials have visited Oman to see how the system it works. I am really confident it will take off because it adds something the paper environment cannot offer,” he claimed. “We are in talks with others, some telco operators and some government departments who take care of parking, who have already contacted us through Oman Mobile and Muscat Muncipality,” he revealed.

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