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USA: Forget Electric-Car Charging Networks, Pay By Mobile Phone?

It’s a well-known problem among electric car owners: accumulating the memberships and authorization cards from enough charging networks in your area so you’re sure to have the right one when you pull up to a charging station.

Now a new company, Liberty Plug-Ins, suggests that maybe all those cards and tags and fobs aren’t necessary.

Liberty wants to let you use your mobile phone to get an authorization code for any charging station, meaning you could leave the key-ring of cards at home.

The company’s core technology is a Synchronous Code Generation system that gives users a code that will unlock a charging station.

The charging station operator must install Liberty’s software on each station, to allow it to be unlocked on input of the correct code.

Initially, Liberty is targeting parking industry operators, fleets, municipal bodies, and real-estate companies that manage multiple-unit dwellings–essentially any group that wants to offer charging services but doesn’t want the headaches of maintaining a payment processing system.

“Parking operators need to be ready to meet the demand for parking spaces with electric-car charging capability,” said Chris Outwater, the CEO of Liberty Plugins. “Mobile payments make adding this feature simple and cost-effective” for both drivers and parking-lot operators.

Two weeks ago, Liberty announced it had partnered with QuickPay, which offers a mobile-phone payment platform. QuickPay is the latest in a group of such vendors that have partnered with Liberty, including PayByPhone, ParkNow, ParkMobile, and Pango.

Liberty licenses its algorithm to all these entities. If the charging station has no built-in microprocessor, it also provides a simple keypad with the algorithm built into to accept and validate the code entered by a driver requesting a charging session.

Under this scenario, electric-car drivers would either call or text a toll-free number on the charging station, and enter a charger number or a parking-space number. They could either authorize a one-time charge, or download a dedicated phone app and set up an account to be used at the same location.


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