Volkswagen Pushes Deeper Into Mobile Payments With Latest Acquisition

December 28, 2016, 9:39 PM UTC
A worker shines the grill of a Volkswagen car displayed on media day at the Paris auto show, in Paris
A worker shines the grill of a Volkswagen car displayed on media day at the Paris auto show, in Paris, France, September 30, 2016. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier - RTSQ7Z0
Photograph by Benoit Tessier — Reuters


Volkswagen has acquired PayByPhone, a company that lets drivers pay for parking using their mobile phones, as the automaker positions itself to make money from emerging businesses like ride-sharing and short-term car rentals.

Earlier this month, Volkswagen launched a digital business division called Moia that will offer, among other services, an on-demand shuttle for commuters living in urban areas in an aim to expand beyond its traditional focus of making and selling cars.

PayByPhone, which processed about $250 million in transactions this year, allows users to pay for parking via a mobile app. It handles tens of millions of transactions annually.

Volkswagen (VLKAY) says it plans to bundle PayByPhone’s capabilities with other mobile payment services into a separate business built around parking. Volkswagen is attempting to turn its financial services arm—the division that bought PayByPhone for an undisclosed sum—into the central provider of mobile payments for the parent company, which includes car brands Audi and Porsche. Last year, Volkswagen Financial Services acquired a 92% stake in Sunhill Technologies, a company that provides mobile payment services for parking in 90 German cities.

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PayByPhone, based in Vancouver, would expand VW’s capabilities beyond the German market. It already has operations in the U.S., France, Switzerland, the UK, and Australia.

“At the moment, parking procedures and their billing are often cumbersome, time-consuming, and a sore point in many cities throughout Europe and the world. Nevertheless, parking is something that is directly related to the use of every car,” Dr. Christian Dahlheim, a VW board member responsible for sales and marketing at Volkswagen’s financial services arm, said in a statement Wednesday. “For this reason, we want to offer our customers a convenient digital solution that makes parking and its billing much easier.”