Mobile commerce startup Metropolis Technologies Inc. is feeling richer today after closing on a $167 million round of funding that was co-led by 3L Capital and Assembly Ventures.
Dragoneer Investment Group, Eldridge Industries, Silver Lake Partners and UP Partners also participated in the Series B round.
Metropolis has built a mobile commerce platform that combines artificial intelligence with digital payment technology to enable drivers to make seamless transactions without a checkout. The system relies on computer vision AI to recognize individual cars as they enter and exit parking lots. This enables the drivers of those vehicles to be billed accurately, and then pay seamlessly, without needing to stop and pull out some cash or a credit card, or scan their phone.
The company explains that digital payments have reduced friction between buyers and sellers both online and in stores. With the emergence of walk-in, walk-out commerce, it’s possible for shoppers to enter a store, choose what they need and then leave without going through any checkout process.
But the same can’t be said of mobile commerce, where most services are living in the pre-internet age, Metropolis explains. Parking lots, car washes and gas and EV charging stations still require payments to be made manually, which involves stopping the car, opening a window or exiting the vehicle, then pulling out a card or device and waiting for the payment to be made. It’s a cumbersome process that Metropolis aims to fix.
For drivers, using Metropolis for payments couldn’t be easier. All that’s required is to download the app, register a vehicle, link a credit card or bank account and that’s it. Then as soon as they enter a Metropolis-powered parking lot, their car will be recognized and the visit will begin. Once they exit the lot, the visit will end and they’ll be billed for the amount of time they were parked. The app will provide a receipt.
Metropolis co-founder and Chief Executive Alex Israel told SiliconANGLE that the company makes payments so seamless that users don’t even need to download its application to start using it first.
“At a parking garage, you can just scan a QR code and sign up right there without any downloads. Or you can walk into a coffee shop, see that they offer discounts for those parking nearby, and sign up there – again without any downloads,” he said. “The member is billed, yes, but based on our recognition of the vehicle entering and exiting the facility.”
If that wasn’t enough, the startup has more ambitious goals that stretch beyond simply paying for parking. It also wants to connect with related services such as cleaning, charging and filling up, plus smaller businesses located near the parking lots it serves, such as coffee shops and retail stores. Israel explained that this will be different from the new walk-in, walk-out payment services on offer today.
“We do drive-in, drive-out, and we do it for Class A office buildings, grocery stores, and local coffee shops,” he explained. “In all cases, we make it easy for local merchants to attract new and repeat customers by offering them discounts on their parking if they use Metropolis.”
Looking ahead, Metropolis will use the funds from today’s round to develop the next generation of its mobile commerce platform and deploy that technology into mobility-adjacent verticals. “We’re both hiring and acquiring,” Israel promised.