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The future of payments for EV charging

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The future of payments for EV charging

By Anthony Wicks, Key Account Manager, Self-Service GSV – Parking & EVC at Worldline

The switch to electric vehicles (EV) is near approaching, and whether you may purchase an EV for yourself or for your company, you will soon have no option but to buy electric. With the switch from fuel to electric comes the need for a payment solution for EV charging.

The UK government has brought forward their initial deadline by 10 years and is phasing out internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles starting in 2030. This, along with grants for EVs and charging points, will drastically reduce vehicle emissions – which includes nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate matter that causes 40,000 deaths per year in the UK.

With nearly 500,000 EVs on the UK's roads, it is clear that consumers are beginning to make the switch to EV vehicles ,as although this is a small fraction of the 38.8 million total, it is five times what it was in 2015. The current European EV fleet stands at 2.3 million in 2020, however it is estimated to rise to 34 million in 2030. As charging infrastructure grows, as it becomes as common to see EV charging as it is petrol stations more people will buy EVs, as they become a standard choice for many drivers over the next decade.

Creating an EV infrastructure around consumers travel habits

Of course, charging an EV takes much longer than refuelling an ICE vehicle. Currently, there are three categories of EV charger: slow, fast and ultra-fast. Slow chargers, typically overnight at home chargers are the most common. They use around 7kW, typically charging an average EV car from empty in eight hours. A 50kW model can add 100 miles of range in around 35 minutes, and ultra-fast 150kW chargers are available that bring charging times down to minutes.

Therefore, the structure of charging a vehicle must change. For consumers using their vehicles primarily to commute and for shopping, it may become common to leave your car on charge in your garage overnight. Those that must travel further afield might choose to charge in purpose-built charging areas with cafes and entertainment, much like service stations. It is increasingly common for businesses such as supermarkets to offer EV charging as an added extra.

Payments must also adapt to the way that people will be using chargers. Charging points will mostly be unattended, so ensuring that customers have a positive experience, that customers who need help can access it and that unscrupulous customers cannot commit fraud will be all down to the design and capabilities of charging points.

What EV charging operators need

Charging stations will be unlike any other piece of infrastructure that we use currently, somewhere between petrol pumps and vending machines, but in some ways like neither.

Anthony Wicks

Anthony Wicks

There are many questions surrounding the best way in which consumers can pay for charging. The model used on vending machines, where a customer taps or swipes their card and the amount is deducted from their account, would simply not work. If a customer taps their card, uses £100 of charging but does not have the funds to pay for that amount, what happens? If you use your card after you are done charging what would prevent somebody from simply driving away? If you pay upfront for £100 of electricity but have to abandon the charging process halfway through, how is the refund processed? If a customer pays by the phone, which currently has a £100 limit, then what happens if they leave their car charging for £110? Will tourists be able to pay in their own currency?

Then there are the more modern payment methods: app payments, 'click and collect', loyalty programmes and an omnichannel experience that keeps the same interface across multiple devices.

Along with payment methods we must also consider security protocols like PSD2 and 3D Secure or new banking rules like Open Banking. EV Payments tie together two pieces of what will become everyday life for billions of people: EVs and digital payments. Businesses need to get the payment system right because consumers who find the already long-winded process of charging an EV difficult can always switch to charging at home.

A one-size-fits all EV charging payment solution

New payment solutions are designed to be able to adapt to any EV hardware and any client business model across Western Europe. The systems are compatible with a huge range of payment types and is easily adaptable to new payment methods.

Such solutions work with both end-to-end and standalone payment processing, with pre-authorisation and electronic receipts available as standard for users opting for end-to-end processing. What's more, acquiring on an end-to-end solution is included which means that EV charging providers in any country in Europe can be assured that they are getting a service that ensures that customers can pay for their charging.

With EVs set to become the norm and highly likely to overtake ICE vehicles several years before the 2030 deadline it is important that infrastructure and software is in place to support consumers. To create a smooth transition, payment providers, charging station manufacturers and operators should work together to create payment experiences that are exciting and can be used with ease.

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