What are EV Payment Terminals?

EV payment terminals are devices that are connected to charging stations, allowing EV drivers to pay for charging sessions with bank cards.

Application of EV Payment Terminals

EV payment terminals are physical devices that are connected to charge points to allow paying for charging sessions with bank cards and contactless payment methods. Paying on the spot like this is also known as ad-hoc payment, as it differs from paying for charging with a prepaid or postpaid balance. The latter two refer to EV drivers using an app provided by the charge point operator (CPO) or electric mobility service provider (eMSP) where users can fill up a balance, similar to a digital wallet, and pay before or after completing the charging session.

Enabling ad-hoc EV charging payments through terminals is a convenience for drivers as it allows them to pay without fumbling through apps. Considering that a driver may subscribe to several charging networks, each offering an app, it becomes clear why a user may prefer to pay with a card instead.

Contactless and card payments are part of two global trends—for self-service retail experiences and cashless payments.

In addition to that, having payment terminals is now a governmental requirement under certain jurisdictions. This is to improve accessibility to EV charging for everybody, as having an open and accessible charging infrastructure is essential for increasing EV adoption and greenifying the transportation sector.

Importance of EV Payment Terminals

There could be many reasons why an EV driver might want to pay with a card instead of an app. If, for example, they have forgotten their phone or it’s out of battery, depending solely on an app leaves the driver without a way to use a public charger. There are also less tech-savvy drivers; for them, using a card is a more accessible option. Traveling through a different country is also a potential reason a user may prefer to pull out a bank card and pay for a charging session than download and register with an app just to charge once.

Charge points with payment terminals are simply more convenient for drivers. They simplify paying for a session, thus making the network more attractive and increasing user retention. EV drivers share a common frustration about using public charging networks—the number of apps they need to download, register with and go through if they want to charge with multiple CPOs/eMSPs.

In addition, this means having to maintain several payment balances. While some eMSPs offer a single app to use with different EV charging providers, this still limits the choice for EV drivers to the network of chargers that work with that particular eMSP.

Furthermore, payment terminals offer charge point operators an excellent opportunity to improve their service. After all, there’s no better way to attract more customers and increase user satisfaction than to make charging easier, in this case, by simplifying the payment experience.

The need for better accessibility to charging networks is a topic that also caught the attention of governments. It is now a requirement, particularly in some EU members and US states, for public charge points to be connected to payment terminals. Such regulations aim to make charging an EV as easy as possible, so zero-emission vehicles become a more attractive and preferred mode of transportation in light of meeting global environmental goals.

Practical Examples of EV Payment Terminals

From a driver’s perspective, using a payment terminal is quite simple, arguably even simpler than paying through an app because all they have to do is swipe their card, and charging will start. There’s more going on in the backend, however.

Upon swiping a bank card or supported contactless payment method such as an NFC-enabled smartphone or a smartwatch, the driver gets a small amount of money in their account “locked up.” This pre-authorization deposit verifies the authenticity of the payment method and ensures that the user has available funds in their account. Once the session is completed, the system will charge the user the remaining amount: (total sum) – (the pre-approved amount). Alternatively, the difference will be unlocked for the driver if the total amount is less than the pre-authorized deposit.

Additional Information About EV Payment Terminals

Payment terminals provide great convenience for EV drivers, but processing a single payment involves an entire chain of events involving multiple actors. These include charge point and payment terminal manufacturers, financial institutions like acquiring banks, payment gateways, payment processors, and charge point management system (CPMS) providers. The latter can provide CPOs with more flexibility when setting up prices and pricing groups tailored to specific customer segments.

Another consideration about payment terminals concerns the available options and making the right choice. There are different ways to connect charge points to terminals; each configuration can serve specific uses.

There are three main ways that charge points and payment terminals work together. One option is to install a charge point with an integrated terminal. There’s also the option to add a discrete terminal to a compatible charging station. Finally, there are kiosks—standalone terminals that can connect to multiple charge points.

Learn More About Payment Terminals

With so many touchpoints, learning about payment terminals can become confusing. Nevertheless, this is an essential topic for EV charging businesses to consider, which is why AMPECO has published a practical guide to payment terminals for EV charging. The easy-to-reference guide details everything that charging operators need to know about payment terminals, how they work, and how to choose the right terminal for any business scenario.

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