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AFIR is levelling the playing field for EV drivers

27 May 2024

by Gina ter Heide

At a glance

The EU's AFIR and the UK's Public Charge Point Regulations 2023 mandate transparent, accessible payments for EV charging, allowing debit, credit or EV charge card use, similar to petrol stations. This simplifies payments for EV drivers but increases administrative tasks for charge point operators (CPOs).

The advent of the EU’s Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR) - and its UK equivalent, the Public Charge Point Regulations 2023 - gave charge point operators (CPOs) in the EU and UK a firm deadline for transparent and accessible payments.

No longer will EV drivers require multiple apps or RFID cards to use a public charge station. Under AFIR, the first phase of which came into force on 13 April, EV drivers can now pay for their charging sessions using their choice of a debit, credit or EV charge card. This payment flexibility is something that drivers of petrol and diesel vehicles have long been able to take for granted. The UK’s Public Charge Point Regulations 2023 impose similar obligations upon CPOs in the country.

These regulations are welcome. We have always believed that paying for an EV charging session should be a frictionless experience, and no more challenging than paying for petrol or diesel. It will not solve other known issues, such as a lack of grid capacity at peak times, but it will certainly solve a common and widely publicised bugbear of EV drivers. Ultimately, this can only help encourage EV uptake.

The admin burden for CPOs

We must also acknowledge that the obligation to provide contactless payment for DC charging may increase the level of administration required by CPOs. This is important as it could discourage would-be CPOs from installing their own public charging infrastructure. Those outside of the payment industry may be unfamiliar with the typically convoluted payment flow for card payments, but behind the scenes there are a number of players who all facilitate the process.

Payment terminals, payment gateways, payment service providers, acquiring banks and charge point management systems (CPMS) all play a vital role in card payments. While some CPMS systems are compatible with particular payment terminals, often the terminal must also be integrated both with the charge point, and then also with the CPMS, which can be time consuming and inconvenient. Further, for the majority of systems, CPOs will need to source their own acquiring service (this means they must become a merchant) and pay the transaction fees charged by banks or card providers. We have found that fees and transaction costs vary extensively between PSPs, with some charging a percentage while others charge a fixed fee. The fees can sometimes be difficult to understand and keep track of, particularly when CPOs are partnered with more than one PSP.

When we devised our AFIR-compliant Tap to Pay feature, our goal was to enable a frictionless experience for not only EV drivers, but also for CPOs. To do this, we have collaborated with three major acquiring services to create a master agreement, which means we can offer a single transaction fee. This removes the need for CPOs to set up their own agreements with acquirers, because we have done all the groundwork for them. Doing this dramatically reduces the level of administration for CPOs.

We firmly believe that our end-to-end payment solution will simplify the public charging experience for EV drivers and CPOs, and improve customer satisfaction. While there are still outstanding barriers to EV adoption that have yet to be solved, the pace of innovation within the EV charging industry is truly inspiring. The vision that charging an EV using a public charger can be as effortless as refuelling a petrol or diesel car is no longer a distant, hazy dream but one that is becoming ever closer to reality.

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