Charging stations on the blockchain will be the killer app for EVs

By eliminating intermediaries and streamlining payment processes, blockchain-based systems can address barriers to EV adoption, writes Seth Ward

Society has all but accepted that the switch from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles to electric vehicles (EVs) is happening as a matter of when not if, but there are still barriers to adoption. EVs need a killer application to entice reluctant drivers to ditch their polluting vehicles and make the switch. One huge deterrent for people considering adopting a sustainable vehicle is charging times. There is a case for the use of blockchain as the foundation of a network of charging stations that reduce the friction of charging payments, leading to reduced queues and drivers getting back on the road faster.

Blockchain payments have the potential to make EV charging faster by reducing the time and effort needed for payment, thereby streamlining the overall process. Traditional payment methods—such as cash, credit cards or mobile payments—need a processor or intermediary to verify and authorise the transaction. This can take time, especially if the payment system is slow or there are issues with payment authorisation. Blockchain, which enables transactions to be verified and processed via a decentralised network, can eliminate the need for these intermediaries in the payment process. This can make the process faster and more efficient, and allow drivers to get back on the road as soon as their vehicle has been charged.

Blockchain payments have the potential to make EV charging faster by reducing the time and effort needed for payment

You might think this could be achieved with existing contactless payment systems, additional processing time notwithstanding. However, these systems are largely predicated on access to a bank account. This wouldn’t even cross the mind of most people in the developed world. However, 14 billion people globally,  many of whom are in the developing world, are considered “unbanked.” People who lack the documentation required to obtain an officially recognised form of identification, such as a government ID or passport, thus making it difficult to access financial services, healthcare, education, and other resources—let’s say, an EV charging network. This is important, because 63% of the world’s total carbon emissions are generated from the developing world. So ensuring that people have access to modern, sustainable transport is not just a matter of altruism, but a matter of great urgency for the whole planet.

Blockchain can facilitate digital identities for people without bank accounts in the developing world by providing a secure, decentralised way to verify and authenticate personal information without the need for traditional financial institutions. By establishing an alternative way for people without bank accounts to set up and maintain a verifiable digital identity, blockchain can grant access to a variety of services and resources—including the EV infrastructure that will be integral to a sustainable future transport network.

The eTukTuk model goes hand-in-hand with a blockchain-based charging network

There are at least two reasons why blockchain is primed to succeed. Firstly, cryptocurrency adoption rates in developing countries, where the majority unbanked people reside, are much higher than in developed countries, where fiat currencies are largely trusted as a more reliable store of value. Secondly, when it comes to the adoption of new technologies, developing countries have been known to accelerate their development by leapfrogging—learning from the mistakes of developed nations and skipping inferior technology that is less efficient or more expensive.

Blockchain is still a relatively nascent technology that most people don’t have a solid understanding of, but it holds the potential to revolutionise not only the way we charge EVs, but any kind of system that hinges on having access to a verifiable identity. By eliminating intermediaries and streamlining payment processes, blockchain-based systems can address barriers to EV adoption and provide greater accessibility to essential services. With the promise of faster overall charging, enhanced security, and empowered individuals, blockchain emerges as a catalyst for a cleaner, more connected, and equitable future.

The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Automotive World Ltd.

Seth Ward is Chief Information Officer of eTukTuk

The Automotive World Comment column is open to automotive industry decision makers and influencers. If you would like to contribute a Comment article, please contact [email protected]

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