Making Payment Anxiety the Ghost of Christmas Past

Guest Editor: Sara Sloman, Chief Strategy Officer at Paythru

First there was Range Anxiety, but EVs now perform comfortably in the 250-300 mile bracket. Then, we saw Charger Anxiety, a concern that chargers won’t work or will be hard to find when you need one. But, while the latest Government legislation helps to remedy this, I foresee a whole new issue for 2024: Payment Anxiety.

Access denied

It’s that time of year. A panic buy here and there or a well-executed sweep of your favourite shops to find the perfect gift. You’re in the right store, at the right time, and you want to pay however you like. Imagine then, that you’ve found what you needed, but time was running out and you hadn’t been there before. Can you envisage being asked to stand aside until you’d downloaded the app, or having to try multiple cards at the till? 

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This doesn’t happen in shops, but it can at chargepoints, and it’s what I call payment anxiety. Suppose you’ve found the right charger, in the right place, at the right time – but you can’t access it, or doing so is a pain, because the operator has accidentally created an inaccessible payment journey for you. 

Payments, accessibility and roaming are all designed to help the end users of chargers, but it feels a little overcomplicated. I believe it’s our responsibility at Paythru to share our extensive experience on how chargepoint owners and operators can maximise the benefits of the new Government regulations, and mitigate any unintended consequences and shortcomings, whilst unlocking revenue potential from their chargers. 

Variety of payment options

Personally, I feel the payment part of our industry has been massively overlooked. I believe the inner workings of a transaction should have as much attention as the hardware being procured and deployed. Most charging software solutions come with invisible incumbent payment service providers and the client doesn’t get a say on the fees being charged. 

The Public Charge Point Regulations 2023 came into force in November. Although the intention is to simplify payment for EV charging, there are potential drawbacks to the new regulations that must be considered. 

I believe drivers should be able to access any charger with one of the three main payment methods: contactless, RFID, or app, allowing a variety of payment options, including mobile apps and roaming cards. Contactless payments work well, but they aren’t the answer for all users. 

EV chargepoint manufacturers should have the freedom to design their own payment systems, which may include cloud-based and roaming systems as well as contactless. 

Requiring a standardised payment system based on contactless card readers could be a complex and expensive process, which may result in significant costs which could be passed on to consumers. I worry that many legacy chargers won’t be deemed suitable for retrofit and will be retired before their time – a disaster both for return on investment and for the environment. Watch the sale of 7kW chargers go through the roof in 2024 to avoid the legislation. I hope those deploying these chargers will think to offer a range of payment options regardless, to maximise their return on investment. A better solution than having to retrofit a card reader may be something like a card-based payment at a nearby parking terminal which has been integrated with the charger, providing an easy payment without making it arduous for the operator.

All I want for Christmas is a home charger. But as that isn’t happening any time soon, I’ll settle for being able to pay for the electricity I’ve used on the public network in a variety of ways that suit me. I don’t want to overpay for this flexibility, but I am prepared to pay a little extra if it makes my life easier. Now pass the Baileys. 

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