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A driver using a QR code to pay their parking fee. Photo kinthedothi.vn

Hà Nội has begun piloting cashless parking services at seven locations.

The pilots began on April 15 and in spite of some early problems, drivers have been generally positive.

With nearly eight million vehicles in the city, the demand for parking spaces is huge, especially in the inner city.

However, the limited land available for parking lots has proved an opportunity for some individuals and organisations to make profits, pushing up parking prices. Even though the parking fee should be public, some parking lots have been deliberately ignoring the rules and charging a different price.

The cashless system is how the Hà Nội Department of Transport plans on tackling the problem.

The seven location for the pilots are lots on Trần Quang Khải, Phan Chu Trinh, Lý Thường Kiệt, Phủ Doãn, Lý Thái Tổ and Nguyễn Thượng Hiền streets.

"We choose Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to deploy cashless payment at parking lots. This technology is considered highly accurate and is applied by countries with similar traffic backgrounds to Việt Nam such as Malaysia and Singapore,” said Trần Ngọc Kiên, project manager of Việt Nam Electronic Toll Cokllection (VETC) company.

“In Việt Nam, the RFID technology has already been successfully applied at toll stations on highways.

“With the experience of collection fees on highways, implementing cashless payment at parking lots is quite convenient, without technological obstacles.

“In fact, after just over two weeks, this type of a payment system has shown positive results and is generally supported by people as a way to gradually make non-cash payments in the transportation sector a habit."

Following a pilot of a cashless system at parking areas around Hoàn Kiếm Lake, one hundred per cent of car drivers paid without using cash, while the rate for motorbikes was between 90 – 95 per cent.

Phan Trường Thành, head of the Financial Planning Division of the Hà Nội Department of Transport, said: "The non-cash form will strengthen State management through controlling revenue and avoiding losses to the budget and help businesses reduce human resources and make statistics work in businesses much easier and more convenient.”

Cashless toll collection at parking spaces will also be the foundation of a smart digital map of Hà Nội showing parking lots across the city which drivers can easily find.

The biggest difficulty facing the implementation of a cashless payment system is the sheer number of spontaneous parking lots, around 90 per cent of which are not under the management of the State.

Traffic expert Nguyễn Mạnh Thắng said: "If the city does not review spontaneous parking lots, it will be difficult for the city to tighten management and collect money for the budget. In addition, the inequality in management policies between licensed and unlicensed parking locations will also discourage many honest businesses, so they might find ways to circumvent and break the law." VNS