Why not direct payment card terminals on EV charging stations ?

On September 17, 2021, the federal states approved the government proposal for the amended charging station ordinance (Ladesäulenverordnung) which mandates that every public charging station must support direct payment card, accept debit & credit cards by Jul 2023. Full info here. Do you think it is a smart move and is going to really help the EV drivers?

How consumers pay for charging EVs is an important element in their charging experience and ensuring availability of widely used payment methods will increase acceptability and accessibility of EVs. 

But at the same time, it makes no sense to go back in-time and add unnecessary burden to EV charge point operators. German government’s proposals for direct payment card functionality on public charging stations overestimates the positive impact for EV drivers; and underestimates the negative consequences on overall EV infrastructure and availability of charging. This may only slow-down the adoption of electric mobility.

Why not direct payment card terminals on EV charging stations ?

▪ New payment technologies are rapidly adopted by consumers: The spread of smartphones with wallets, where Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) is implemented via fingerprint / Face-ID or similar, is increasing. PIN entry is no longer required, neither for the amount limit, nor if the user exceeds the limit of five payment transactions or the €50 limit in Germany or €150 limit in other member states. For this reason, customers – if it is available - will tend to use SCA. The AFIR proposal should be technology neutral and future-proof, enabling all future payment options. That includes taking into account the rapid increase in mobile payments with embedded SCA.

▪ Small transaction amounts are central to the EV charging business: A typical payment transaction at an AC - or normal - charging station for a "full charge" (charging the battery up to 80 %) results to approx. €8 per charging transaction on average. This could be supplemented by a few euros for a parking fee (charging time) in some cases where this is applicable.

These are trivial amounts that are far below the limits for contactless transactions in the EU, such as the €50 limit in Germany for bank cards and major credit cards. While the amounts charged for DC or fast charging can be higher, even these are nowhere near the €50 threshold.

▪ The PIN-pad requirement is unnecessary and comes at disproportionate costs: Additional costs for a terminal with a PIN-pad (which accounts for only 1-2% of payment transactions) make the entire installation of charging infrastructure considerably more expensive and will increase the costs for the EV driver, reducing the acceptance of EVs as an alternative to the internal combustion engine car.

This additional requirement to equip recharging stations with a PIN-pad card terminal will also cause much longer certification times due to the increased complexity in the assessment procedure. In addition, higher maintenance costs are incurred over the lifetime of the charger as the PIN-pad is part of the certified charging point. This will unnecessarily slow down the roll-out of charging infrastructure throughout Europe. Hence, the PIN-pad obligation is not proportionate.

Long story short: This new implementation would require a significant investment in hardware, installation, and operational costs to facilitate only a very minimal percentage of transactions requiring this payment method. I hope that the government realizes it and relook at the ordinance mandate.

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