Payment topics are often carried by a certain hype in the media. On the one hand, this is positive, as it shows that there is public and media interest in the topics of our industry. However, it also often leads to exaggerations, generalisations and sometimes simply mixing up content, which then requires a lot of explaining to get a clear view.

Besides the final days of Maestro as a co-badge for girocards, the terminal obligation for charging stations according to the German Charging Station Ordinance (Ladesäulenverordnung – LSV) was also recently part of this controversial discussion.

Any discourse around the topic of cars in Germany automatically leads to a very emotional debate anyway. Similar to the electric car/combustion camp, two parties clash here in terms of payment: supporters of a terminal solution face off against advocates of existing app and card-not-present solutions.

The former celebrate the amendment of the LSV as a success, as the terminal obligation lowers the barriers to entry into e-mobility (almost everyone knows how to use their debit or credit card). On the other hand, it is frowned upon as an outdated payment relic in an otherwise thoroughly digital process.

Unfortunately, this is often as far as the debate goes, although the really interesting questions arise with the actual implementation planning:

  • Which use cases do I have to cover?
  • Which standards can I use?
  • Where does the process need to be rethought?

Admittedly: Implementation and concept work is usually much less spectacular than the big system questions in the run-up.

But only process and technology know-how and not least diligence bring an idea to life. By bringing the debate back to the factual level, the opportunities and weaknesses of existing and future payment solutions can be evaluated.

While POS has also undergone a constant evolution, the interaction between e.g., POS systems, acquirers, terminals and receipt printers has been well-rehearsed over a long period of time. The protocols in use are sometimes “old-fashioned” – never-change-a-winning-team. Although efforts are being made to establish modernised solutions (e.g. nexo), these are still far from being standard practice.

The convergence of independent process worlds

The Charger protocols (OCPI, OCPP) are not suitable for terminal operation. A ZVT cash register protocol, on the other hand, is not primarily intended to control an authorisation process in the vending machine setup that runs for many hours.

The fact remains: At the charging stations, a new technology is being combined with an established payment world and thus two process worlds that have previously co-existed in parallel and separately from each other.

Looking at the upcoming developments in the field of e-mobility, the challenges are not getting any smaller: bi-directional charging and ad-hoc payment processes via terminals do not seem compatible with each other at first glance. Plug&Charge charging cables, via which payment processes are seamlessly integrated, would under certain circumstances make up for the laboriously achieved regulatory representation. It also remains to be seen whether the existing app solutions of the Mobility Service Providers (MSP) will be maintained in their entirety. The number of solution providers is large, and market consolidation seems to be a question of time.

A fully comprehensive solution is required

An appeal on our part to all those who have fervently demanded the terminal obligation: It is time to think beyond visually appealing hardware and the extension of existing solutions. A fully-fledged payment process strategy is needed and not just the expansion of the payments mix.

This concerns the issues that already exist today (how to deal with overruns of the pre-authorisation amount due to blocking fees?) as well as those that are yet to come (will there be a terminal-based solution for credit processes in bi-directional charging processes?).

The Common targets: Defining new standards, making them efficient and not letting the process be dictated by the past. Time is running out and the tasks are big.

Interested in an exchange? Get in touch with us.

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