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A New Electronic Payment System to Protect Customer Privacy at EV Charging Points

Posted August 01, 2014 12:06 PM by Jordan Perch

In addition to range anxiety, long recharge time, and high purchase price, another issue surrounding electric cars has been brought into focus lately, and it has to do with the way people pay to recharge their vehicles. With the exception of Tesla's Model S, most other electric vehicles have to be recharged every 70-80 miles, so the time it takes to recharge a battery and how customers pay for it can play a huge role in the mass acceptance of electric vehicles. When it comes to payment, there are some controversies involving payment systems that are currently in use, regarding customer privacy and how EV charging service providers use the data collected from EV charging points.

Since most EV charging points are data enabled, they allow energy companies to collect information on when and how often customers recharge their electric vehicles, which could give them an insight into their personal lives and habits. A new system developed by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), part of the Ministry of Trade and Industry in Singapore, aims to eliminate privacy concerns involving EV charging payment. Researchers at the A*STAR have created a system that allows EV owners to perform transactions at charging stations quickly and easily, without revealing any personal information.

The main problem with conventional payment systems is that it allows payment companies or hackers to retrieve customer information that has to do with the time of day they recharge their vehicles and how much money they spend on it, and share that information with advertising agencies to target EV owners and send them spam messages. The A*STAR system addresses this issue, as it includes a unit mounted inside the vehicle, similar to a tablet or a smartphone, that provides anonymous payment when recharging. With it, you can shut down your account instantly, and retrieve unused credit, so hackers can't steal any sensitive data.

This system provides two significant advantages over other popular payment systems, as Joseph Liu, an A*STAR researcher who led this project, explains. "Some popular electronic payment systems like credit cards do not provide any privacy, while other systems like prepaid cash cards may not be suitable for large payments, or are not insured against card loss. Cash is anonymous, but requires expensive machines to keep cash stores secure from thieves," he says.

The researchers said that they have already tested how their system handles different types of attacks: hackers trying to track a user's transactions; a user trying to underpay for services; and a supplier trying to falsely accuse a user of not paying. It has resisted all attacks without a trouble. They now intend to start testing it in 100 new electric vehicles, provided by the Chinese manufacturer BYD Auto.

If this system proves to be reliable, EV owners won't have to worry about what data is being collected at charging points, what the data is being used for, who controls the data and who it is potentially shared with, and their privacy won't be jeopardized at all.

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Anonymous Poster #1
#1

Re: A New Electronic Payment System to Protect Customer Privacy at EV Charging Points

08/01/2014 10:15 PM

I find a tin foil hat helps the most to prevent snooping.

In all seriousness, what's to prevent gas stations from tracking your habits? What's the difference?

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#2
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Re: A New Electronic Payment System to Protect Customer Privacy at EV Charging Points

08/03/2014 6:05 AM

I invoke the Rhett Butler clause!

Del

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#3

Re: A New Electronic Payment System to Protect Customer Privacy at EV Charging Points

08/03/2014 5:34 PM

Just install cash receptacles like they have for "self checkout" in stores. I always pay for fuel with cash...seem to work just fine!

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Re: A New Electronic Payment System to Protect Customer Privacy

08/03/2014 6:34 PM

We pay for gas (and other things) with EFTPOS Debit cards down here. The machines are so prevalent that even Charity $2.00 sausage sizzle stands have wireless EFTPOS machines!

Surely the payment system is only going to constitute a fraction of the overall cost of the charging station, with a number of systems (including smart phone based) already well proven and safe.

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