Approximately one in six Canadians (16%) are aware that it is now possible to pay for parking with a cell phone in some Canadian cities and have the charges billed to their wireless accounts, according to a new survey from Decima Research Inc.  This is a relatively new phenomenon in Canada with the service available in only a few of the country’s major urban areas. In some European countries, upwards of 50% of all parking transactions are paid with a cell phone, according to other industry figures. The Decima study, prepared for Report on Wireless, shows that awareness is highest in British Columbia. With a 38% mindshare, it is clear a pilot project in Vancouver has created a buzz in that province. In contrast, about one in 10 Canadians living in Ontario and Atlantic Canada are aware of the service. Awareness of the service doesn’t change significantly when comparing age, income or education levels.  Our gauge of subscriber interest in using a cell phone to pay for parking shows approximately three-quarters of cell phone users say they are not very interested or not at all interested. However, there’s an early adopter segment of 8% of survey respondents who are extremely or very interested. The data show that younger cell phone users – those under the age of 45 – have a greater affinity for this type of service.  The data do reveal some other interesting findings, however. Male cell phone users are almost twice as likely to want to pay for parking using a cell phone. Wireless users living in metropolitan areas are also more interested in using a cell phone to pay for parking by two to one, and equally those with annual incomes above $100,000 are more interested in paying for parking with a cell phone than cell phone users with incomes below $40,000 annually.  Using a mobile phone to pay for parking is one of the first types of payment application. There is a growing trend towards the handset becoming a wallet where it can be used to purchase a wide variety of goods and services. The charges can be applied to the cell phone account, credit cards, bank accounts or pre-paid accounts.  Toronto-based Mint Inc. was one of the first companies in Canada to enable parking payment via cell phones (RoW, April 7/04) with operations in Vancouver and Toronto and plans to launch in other Canadian cities in the future. The company recognizes the tremendous upside for other payment applications and is currently involved in a 1,000-person trial using cell phones to pay for a variety of goods and services on a large company’s Toronto-area campus (RoW, June 29/05).  Decima’s survey data indicate wireless subscribers’ interest in using a cell phone to pay for other goods and services such as coffee, snacks, movie tickets or public transportation is registering at 8% (2% extremely and 6% very interested). This level should be considered a healthy percentage given the limited familiarity with and nascent stage of this type of wireless application. It is worth noting that this service is not yet commercially available in Canada.  Although while it’s difficult to compare interest levels based on income and education due to the small sample sizes, the data do show that younger Canadians and those with higher levels of education are more likely to be interested in using a cell phone to pay for a variety of goods and services (besides parking).  When provided a specific list of goods and services from which to pick, the survey shows that there is substantial interest from Canadian wireless users to buy gas for the car (22%), purchase movie theatre tickets (21%) and pay for public transportation (18%) using a cell phone (see chart on page 1 for more details).  There are Canadians who would have no problem using a cell phone to purchase higher-priced items (>$40), while there are others who would be more conservative with cell phone payments, reserving the handset for low-ticket transactions (<$20).  Decima’s survey comes at a time when there is a greater trend towards contactless payment, a method of paying for goods and services without having to swipe a debit card and enter a PIN or use a credit card and have to sign a receipt. MasterCard International is leading the major credit cards in adopting this technology where a chip is integrated into credit cards and users simply "pass" the card by a reader which initiates and completes the transaction in a few seconds. The embedding of chips into cell phones is expected to transform the handset from a communications- and entertainment-centric device into the wallet of the future.  Convenience stores and quick service restaurants are also getting into the game as they see the opportunity to increase customer throughput by decreasing line wait times. 7-Eleven announced earlier this year that it was installing contactless payment readers in all of its 5,300 locations throughout the United States. McDonalds had previously partnered with MasterCard in 2004. The big three cell phone manufacturers – Nokia, Motorola and Samsung – recognize the opportunity and are working towards commercially introducing payment-enabled cell phones in the future. They are expected to release a handset each with contactless payment capabilities this year.  Survey findings are based on interviews with 1,004 Canadians from July 28 to 30. Results are accurate to within +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. The margin of error will be larger within subgroupings of the survey population. Data have been weighted to ensure the national sample is representative of gender and age within region. Data were collected using Decima Research’s weekly teleVox omnibus telephone survey.