Schlumberger Smart Cards and Terminals has been awarded a contract to supply the City of Denver with parking terminals that accept credit cards.

The French chip card and terminal supplier, whose U.S. base is in San Jose, Calif., recently installed its "Pay & Display" terminals in six lots across the city, with a total of 660 parking spaces. Each terminal accepts payment for several nearby parking spaces; motorists select the length of time they need to park, insert cash or a credit card, and receive a ticket to place on their dashboard, alerting traffic officers to the payment.

City officials are hopeful that allowing credit card payments will reduce collection costs.

"The Schlumberger parking solution includes software with administrative capabilities that are paramount for enabling officers to retrieve information and assess it quickly and easily," said Tom Reilly, assistant director of parking management for the City and County of Denver. "Credit card acceptance is especially effective, since it minimizes the time needed to straighten, count, and deposit dollar bills."

Each day, a "hot list" of unauthorized credit cards is downloaded to the terminals so unuseable cards can be rejected quickly on site, according to Schlumberger. The terminals also come with software that enables card transaction data to be transmitted directly to the issuing bank.

Dave P. Witts, marketing manager for municipality solutions at Schlumberger, said cities and towns are showing more interest in parking terminals that can accept credit cards.

"It's becoming a requirement, because parking rates are getting higher," Mr. Witts said. "Everyone's carrying plastic with them now, so it just makes sense to offer an alternative form of payment."

Credit cards are accepted in Schlumberger parking systems in Toronto, St. Petersburg, Fla., and the University of California at Berkeley, Mr. Witts said.

Schlumberger's parking terminals also can accept smart cards, but no city has taken advantage of that feature yet. At least one major U.S. city, Boston, is accepting smart card payments at some parking meters, but it is using a Finnish terminal supplier.

"For a lot of cities that are contemplating using smart cards, one of the biggest hurdles they have is the distribution process," Mr. Witts said. "The first stage will be credit cards, because the cards are in place already."

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