Russia’s Yandex Now Has A Parking App

Russia’s search and Internet services giant Yandex has launched a parking app for iOS and Android, called Yandex.Parking — initially in Moscow where traffic congestion (in)famously makes parking a particular headache.

As well as helping drivers locate a free space, the app lets them pay to park, and pay only for the specific time they have been parked — refunding any overspend if they leave before their ticket has expired.

The app launch follows Yandex’s acquisition of a low-powered mobile geo-location startup KitLocate, last March. The latter’s technology had previously been used to power a street parking and payment service, with its geo-fencing algorithms used to identify when a driver had vacated a space in order to trigger an alert to stop an in-app parking meter to calculate the exact parking fee. Yandex is evidently using the same tech now in its own brand parking app play.

Yandex’s app displays unoccupied municipal and commercial parking spaces on a map view, with vacant space data updated every 10-15 minutes (with the data provided by Moscow’s Parking Space Administration — so it’s not a real-time representation of parking capacity).

Parking fees are also detailed in the app. And users of another Yandex service, its sat-nav offering Yandex. Navigator, can tap a button to be routed to a spare spot once they’ve considered their parking options.

Multiple payment methods are supported by the app, including the company’s own online payment system, Yandex.Money — or bankcard payment, or via a mobile phone or a city parking account. Yandex notes that payments from city parking accounts are commission-free; other methods entail varying commissions. Update: Yandex has specified it is not currently taking any cut itself on parking payments, so pushing users to its online payments and sat-nav services are the likely drivers here, along with general digital brand expansion.

Yandex has been increasingly rolling into new areas in recent years, as a strategy to carve out growth beyond its core search business — which has a majority but relatively stable marketshare in Russia. Hence the imperative to diversify out from search services.

Yandex does not break out the number of active users of the Yandex.Money service but says more than 20 million e-wallets had been registered as of the end of 2014. And more than 12,000 new wallets are being registered daily.