Cryptocurrency fans, rejoice. There’s a new way to spend digital currency in Denver.
Top Airport Parking, which offers discounted parking spots for $3.99 a day near Denver International Airport, on Tuesday began accepting bitcoin, Dogecoin and about 50 other types of digital payments where encryption — instead of banks — is used to verify and transfer funds.
The San Francisco start-up, whose co-founders include parking veteran Brett Harwood, picked Denver as its first cryptocurrency market because it seemed like an accepting city, said Patrick Murray, CEO and co-founder of Noson, the parent of Top Airport Parking.
“With the big technology scene in Denver, and a large percentage of our customers as millennials, we felt Denver would be a great place to launch,” said Murray, whose company also accepts credit cards. “We plan to slowly expand to other cities throughout the year.”
Murray, named one of the National Parking Association’s 2016 “40 Under 40,” says that Noson’s parking lot partners are licensed, have thousands of spaces and are within 10 minutes of Denver International by car.One happens to be ParkDIA, a lot on East 68th Avenue just a few minutes from the DIA terminal. The lot added Top Airport Parking to its list of partners last fall after meeting Murray at a parking conference.
“We saw how he did things a little differently and not just the price structure,” said Kyle Geddes, ParkDIA’s director of client services. “He also listed customer reviews. … That’s been great for getting the word out.”
ParkDIA, which typically charges $6 a day, also works with other parking aggregators like Denver-based Parkifi. But Geddes wasn’t familiar with the cryptocurrency launch.
Those interested in paying by bitcoin must plan ahead by reserving a spot and paying for it on Top Airport’s site, at airportparking.top/denver-crypto.html.
Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are still an uncommon form of payment. According to the state of the industry report by CoinDesk Research, the market is still speculative and venture capital investment has been about the same for the past two years.
Also discouraging mainstream use is the price of a bitcoin, for example. One bitcoin was going for about $1,200 on the Bitcoin of America exchange Tuesday. Using bitcoin to pay for the $3.99 parking fee means a tiny portion of one bitcoin would be sent to Noson’s payment system.
It’s also a nascent technology in the parking industry, said Stephanie Robert, the National Parking Association’s vice president of marketing.
“We believe that this is an early-adopter company that is using bitcoin. We have not seen this become an industry trend,” she said.
But Murray says that accepting bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies isn’t about publicity. He’s just a fan of this alternative form of payment. Noson invested in a new reservation and inventory management system, plus additional security and verification systems.
“Though bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies aren’t too mainstream just yet,” he said, “we want to support them any way we can.”