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We’ve all been there. You go to the mall, get your shopping done, and head towards your car, only to find that you have no cash for the parking machine. And so you find an ATM, draw some cash, break that cash, and finally pay for your parking, muttering “there must be a simpler way” all the while.
It was just such an experience which led KaChing founders Jaco Marais and Rudolph de Wet to decide enough was enough and build such that simpler way themselves. That decision led to KaChing, an app which aims to take the hassle out of parking.
“We’d just had a terrible experience at a mall where it took us nearly 30 minutes to pay for parking,” says Marais of the incident which set him, de Wet, and fellow co-founder William Cosby down the path to building KaChing, which was founded in 2014.
Launched today, the app has actually been in use at a handful of Johannesburg malls for a few months now with the team using its learnings in those centres iron out any bugs in the system.
KaChing brings together a variety of technologies, including mobile payments and wallets and license plate recognition technology to ensure that you don’t ever have to manually pay for parking at a participating mall.
The second of these technologies, de Wet told us was the one it was most crucial to get right. “You don’t want people stuck behind a boom,” he said. Another challenge with license plate recognition was getting it to work in a variety of different parking environments, ranging from fully underground, constantly-lit parking lots to outdoor ones which switch between natural and artificial light.
During the development and testing process, the KaChing founders quickly realised that the app wouldn’t work if people had to pay for it, as was initially planned. “We therefore had to make sure that people were paying no more for parking than they do with existing systems,” Marais told Ventureburn.
Instead, it will look to make its money through providing malls with value added services, including security and insights into parking lot management. “As we continue to develop the technology, we are excited about the new value adds we will be able to offer our partners and users,” he adds.
Since its founding, KaChing has largely been bootstrapped. It did, however, benefit from winning a Gauteng Accelerator Programme (GAP) competition, which provided it with seed funding.
According to Marais, while the company is not averse to looking at new products, for now, it wants to concentrate on “making parking easier” and “offer that at a wide range of malls”.
The KaChing Parking app is available on the Apple iStore and Google Play Store. The service first launched in 2015 on a commercial pilot basis. It is already available at Melrose Arch, Campus Square and Morningside shopping centres, and will be available at Pavillion (Durban) and Thrupps (Johannesburg) shopping centres shortly. There are also plans to expand to other shopping spots across the country.