Worldline: The growing importance of seamless payments in EV charging

Anthony Wicks, Key Account Manager, Self-Service GSV – Parking & EVC at Worldline spoke to Payment Expert about the importance of an innovative payment journey for electric vehicle charging, as their popularity continues to grow. 

PaymentExpert: What do you believe is currently lacking when it comes to seamless payments for EV users?

Anthony Wicks: The current European EV fleet stands at 2.3 million in 2020, however it is estimated to rise to 34 million in 2030, and therefore EV chargers will need to be equipped to take unattended payments – to rise from 200K today to more than 3 million by 2030 according to the European Commission.

Clunky payment systems with limited options lead to abandoned transactions in any industry, and EV charging will be no different. However, it can take hours to fully charge or recharge a vehicle, so self-service terminals will have to operate very differently to other self-service operations like vending machines.

For example, how will a customer be refunded if they have to pay up front for their time but have to abandon the five hours they paid for after two hours? Or, if users have to pay after charging is completed and a customer only has their phone with them, which has a £100 payment limit, but leaves their car charging for too long, how can they pay? And what about people who charge their car and leave without paying?

PE: Can you tell us why it’s important to offer an integrated payments experience for EV drivers?

AW: The number of ways there are to pay for EV charging makes the payment process increasingly complicated. Even when you exclude cash, there are still a wide range of debit and credit cards (some with and some without chip and pin technology, some open loop and others closed), mobile wallets, app-based payments, mobile payments and services Apple PaylD. 

What’s more, there are different currencies and regulatory regimes in different countries so for a fully electric future everybody will need to be included. Therefore, it is important that EV chargers consider everybody’s needs.

Additionally, not all payments will even take place at the charging point itself: just as ‘click and collect’ allows consumers to pay for their café order ahead of their arrival, ‘click and charge’ systems could allow EV drivers to pay for their charging before they reach a charging point. There would then need to be a seamless interface between the app and the charging point, making the process as simple as it is in cafes.

PE: How can solutions currently available meet security standards whilst still providing seamless journeys? 

AW: It is important to meet security standards as EV infrastructure owners, EV charging manufacturers and charging point operators aren’t going to standardise their offerings themselves. Operators are also going to have very different methods when it comes to taking payments (for example they could use end-to-end or standalone payment processing) and require a host of features beyond just taking payments.

What’s more, charging stations operated by current petrol stations will likely continue their current loyalty programmes, so these will need to be incorporated into their charging systems, which would also need to be networked to receive updates, which introduces security issues. 

You can see how the simple act of having a loyalty scheme can cause problems unless there is a unified, end-to-end solution that can be used by everyone from the manufacturers of the charging station through to the operators of charging points and finally by consumers themselves.

PE: What can be done to increase the easy integration of cashless payment acceptance in self-service kiosks?

AW: New payment solutions, such as WL Easy EV hardware and software, are designed to be the one-size-fits-all solution to the growing EV charging market, able to adapt to any EV hardware and any client business model across Western Europe. With a hardware portfolio that includes four PIN pads, the real innovation is behind the scenes in the sheer range of payment types the hardware is able to accept and the different business models that such a solution is compatible with.

The solution works 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 an end-to-end solution is included for both a standalone version as well as the full end to end solution. This means that whichever solution EV charging providers opt for, in any country in Europe, they can be assured that they are getting a service that ensures that customers can pay for their charging.

Security is a major concern for any payment, especially at unattended electric charging stations, and the latest security standards are built in at the point of sale without adding extra steps for the customer. As is standard in modern payments, this security layer is designed to be as invisible as possible.

PE: Do you have any advice on how to upgrade payments processing for EV charging providers?

AW: EV payment solutions tie together the two strands of what will become part of everyday life for billions of people across the world: EVs and digital payments. Within our lifetimes the vehicles on the roads will become fully electric and with almost all people using eCommerce, contactless payments or app-based banking, it is important for EV Charging providers to keep up.

The latest systems bring the very best of what customers are used to in other parts of their life, online and off, to something that they are either using now or will be soon, while providing the hardware and software that charging station manufacturers and providers need to offer the systems end-users need. It is therefore important to upgrade payment processing for EV charging providers as this will help drive a more electric future in the transport and mobility market.