EV Charging payment issues across Europe

Date: Thursday March 16, 2023

Paying for EV charging can be a daunting experience. There are several Charging Point Operators (CPO) that offer RFID cards, mobile applications and use of debit/credit cards in their system. However, there is a lack of interoperability and the absence of debit/credit cards at many charging points in Europe, causing EV charging payment issues.

In this regard, the European Parliament introduced the “Alternative fuels infrastructure Regulation (AFIR)” for the widespread deployment of EV charging points across Europe (EV charging stations to be present every 60 km). In Europe, “Fit for 55“, is aimed to improve user experience and fairness. In the USA, legislation is being introduced to have a uniform payment system across all CPOs. The postulates under the legislation; National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) in the USA, is also required to enhance pricing information, charging speeds and payment systems. Both these legislative actions aim for interoperability to reduce consumer anxiety.

Interoperability and Roaming

There is a widespread desire to have a system that includes all relevant CPOs in Europe. However, such a system is missing or has not been accepted in the mainstream. A uniform card and payment system coupled with a mobile application would resolve anxiety (carrying cards) and effort to find relevant charging points. New legislative amendments in Europe (AFIR) and the US (NEVI) are being pushed for improvements in this regard.

Thanks to legislation in 2017, people can charge with other networks in foreign countries. They will need a subscription from their home countries and find a hosting company in other countries. Consumers do not have to worry about extra fees or contracts to charge from other CPOs in Europe. Hence, free-roaming for EV charging points across Europe reduces consumer anxiety to find relevant chargers.

How to find chargers in Europe

Chargers can be found by main two main applications in Europe; Plug shares and Chargemap. These apps can show the following features:

  • Location of charging point
  • Type of connector (AC, DC, Tesla)
  • Charger speed
  • Payment method
  • Current status of the charger (Busy, free or out of order)

The main charging providers in Europe

CPOs across Europe chart

Debit/credit card provision at charging points

Companies in Europe generally receive payments either through company-issued RFID or mobile-phone application. With the help of mobile phone applications, debit and credit can also be digitally linked with this application. CPOs such as ChargePoint, and EVGO allow the use of debit and credit cards in their system.

Some lawmakers want to make a giant stride by mandating debit and credit systems in existing EV charging points in Europe. The Europe Parliament has indicated introducing EV charging payments by credit and debit cards as a priority. The lawmakers feel that the volume of charging stations coupled with payment convenience would enable the rapid move towards electrification.

One leader, Anna Deparnay, commented, “Our vision is very clear: charging as easy as fuel refueling”. Germany and the UK have already mandated credit and debit card payment options for EV charging. In Germany regulations to support debit and credit cards will come into play by 2023. In the UK, credit and debit payments were mandated by the government in 2020. In 2019, California also passed a law that would mandate companies to install debit and credit card options in the charging points by 2022.

CPOs issuing their own charging cards, such as Shell All start, and BP, will also face competition when people prefer their bank cards. Consumers already suffer from having multiple cards for different CPOs. Hence, having a uniform credit/debit card acceptable by all CPOs will reduce the cognitive and financial burden among customers. This will also give debit and credit leverage to CPOs by avoiding multiple payment cards. As well, this will prevent the need to save multiple receipts, along with reducing admin costs.

However, charging point operators feel implementation would require a radical redesign of charging points and delay the timeline to widespread deployment of EV charging points across Europe. This could also put considerable financial constraints on CPOs. There is also apprehension that CPOs may altogether uninstall charging points to avoid modification to existing infrastructure.

On the other hand, consumer representatives disagree citing, “Its implementation is low-cost, with even cheaper retrofitting solutions being developed.” The representative further advocated that this move would strengthen consumer confidence towards EV charging. This view is supported by EU Parliament chief negotiator Ismail Terug, who believes people cannot be universally familiar with Google Pay, Apple Pay, QR codes or payment by applications.

Conventional methods (debit/credit cards) should exist within charging networks. There is a popular opinion that mobile phone-based systems may create hindrances such as when one’s phone is not charged. Countries negotiating with the EU Parliament, want to find a compromise by mandating QR code payment as the minimal requirement.

The large dissemination of the charging network can attain full benefits if there is convenience attached to it. The provision of debit and credit card payments will pave the way for consumer confidence towards EV charging. Companies which face financial hurdles should be supported by government and non-government agencies to amend existing networks to facilitate debit and credit cards. New companies should be supported which could facilitate interoperability among CPOs to facilitate a uniform network of charging across Europe.

To learn more about EV charging infrastructure, read our Vehicle Electrification Case Study