June 24th – 2020: Welcome to our third blog in the series of seven describing the e-Mobility ecosystem.
The e-Mobility market consists of many actors and because of several types of growth developments these actors interact and overlap more and more, making it harder to fully understand the whole ecosystem. To help you get a clear and better understanding of the e-Mobility market, we will share with you our knowledge and view by a series of blogs where we will highlight several actors. In this blog we will focus on the e-Mobility Service Provider(e-MSP) and will be covering the following aspects:
– The role, definition, and responsibilities of the e-MSP
– The relationship with the other roles in the ecosystem
– Developments in the market
– Pains and gains
– Needed solutions
The role, definition, and responsibilities of the e-MSP
The e-Mobility Service Provider often referred to as e-MSP (or EMSP, MSP) is the company with which the EV-driver has a contract for all services related to electric charging. The e-MSP has several responsibilities; ranging from charge card provisioning, apps to locate and navigate to charge points, the management and expansion of the roaming network, billing and invoicing, customer management and the defining the pricing of charging sessions towards the EV-driver.
Relation to other roles in the market
To ensure that the e-MSP can offer its customers the largest charging network as possible, the e-MSP often collaborates with roaming hubs, of which a limited number are present in Europe. These hubs have a platform on which, among others, CPOs and e-MSPs can exchange information. When a contractual partnership is realized between CPO’s and e-MSPs the charge card details are linked to a so-called contract ID (representing a customer / EV-driver). This contract ID is verified in a database when a customer of either one of the parties is starting the charging process at the location of the charge point.
Charge Point Operators
Another way of sharing information is a direct connection between CPO’s and e-MSPs. These (OCPI) connections are made to share real-time information (Contract ID’s) with each other without the intervention of a roaming hub. Using this real-time information, a customer gets direct insight in, for example, his charging transactions at any time of the day.
A third option to share information between parties is by whitelisting. On a certain frequency (e.g. daily, weekly or monthly) both parties (CPO and e-MSP) share their database with contract IDs with each other. This way it is possible verify a transaction without a real-time connection. The invoicing and billing can than be done after exchanging all transactions, so-called Charge Detail Records (CDRs) of that month. Because of this construction, it takes up to 6 weeks to charge the customers.
Cross-pollination between roles
The e-MSP role is often a double role in the market. For example, if an electric car is bought from the car dealer or supplied by a leasing or fleet company, it’s a logical extension for those actors to supply a charging card as well to provide a complete service to the end-user. Also, energy utilities who already supply the energy to the homes or businesses of potential EV-drivers can help their customers by offering an e-MSP service. Finally, also the Charge Point Operator (CPO) can benefit significantly by becoming an e-MSP as well, and with that becoming a one-stop-shop for their customers. Concluding; there are a lot of business opportunities to become a e-MSP and that is one of the reasons that a lot of actors in the ecosystem take upon this role as well.
What influence has the e-MSP in the e-Mobility ecosystem?
The main influence that the e-MSP has on the landscape is the pricing of a charging session. This can vary between paying just for the amount of power purchased per kWh to a flat rate subscription with fixed prices per month regardless of the amount of power purchased or the number of transactions.
As stated in the CPO blog the CPO determines a part of the price, the price for the use of the charging point. Another part of the price of a charging session is determined by the e-MSP namely the price for billing and the use of the roaming network. A sum of these two prices is often the total price that the EV-driver pays for the charging session.
The e-MSP also influences the size of the roaming network and the access to it. By collaborating with new CPO’s in different countries, the e-MSP can build an ever-increasing charging network. This ensures that the EV driver can ultimately charge anywhere for the rate agreed with his e-MSP
Developments in the market
The market of e-Mobility is continuously in development and all actors, including e-MSPs, need to make sure they act on time to keep their business model and market share successfully in place. Here a few examples of key developments:
Who offers the most complete charging infrastructure network? That is one of the questions e-MSPs are bending over to. It used to be interesting to be able to offer the largest national network to customers. Nowadays, roaming networks are being looked at more on a cross-border level. This will become the rule rather than the exception in the future. With strategic collaborations between parties via direct peer to peer connections, whitelisting and via roaming hubs make it easily possible for the e-MSP to offer a wide-spread international charging network. The question will remain which of the mentioned roaming strategies will dominate in the end…
In the Netherlands, this is a growing theme. Because the Netherlands is ahead of large parts of Europe in terms of e-Mobility, this will probably soon be the case in Europe as well since the arguments are based on European law. The combination of CPO tariffs, starting tariffs, kWh tariffs, connection tariffs, e-MSP tariffs, etc. make it difficult for end-users to determine the price for a charging session. To put an end to this price clutter, it will become mandatory to make the prices known to the consumer before the start of a charging session, for example by displaying it on the website, by a sticker on the charging station, or by an app. e-MSP’s who will take a leading role in providing a great customer experience on this will probably benefit from this.
A fast-growing market attracts a lot of players, ranging from large international incumbents, existing players, tech giants to local start-ups. Currently, everyone is trying to grasp a piece of the pie and with that widening their product portfolio, e.g. automotive players and energy utilities becoming e-MSP’s., which could lead to backwards integration in the industry. The market is working on a communication protocol called ISO 15118. This protocol is being developed for communication between the charging station and the vehicle. Because of this development, it is possible to replace the physical charge card, keyrings, and apps with the vehicle itself. Other solutions imitating this protocol can be found in e.g. smart charging cables. As e-MSP you should be aware of these developments, stay on the lookout for emerging technologies and be critical in which market(s) and customer segment(s) you want to service and with which value propositions.
Pains and Gains
Now we have looked at the role, definition and responsibilities of the e-MSP, the relationship with the other roles in the ecosystem, and the developments that are going on in the market, it becomes clear that an e-MSP can experience many different pains and gains.
Starting with the positive side, the gains, a new and fast-growing market brings opportunities and the market is still opening and leaves enough market share to start a successful long-term business as e-MSP. One of the advantages of the e-MSP role is the relationship with the customer, namely the invoice relationship and the contract with the customer. This results in a mountain of valuable data on product behavior and market development which might be monetized in a later stadium. Several valuable business models can be found and/or designed around at the intersection of e-Mobility and Energy. To leapfrog directly into a sweet spot the right partners are available to support your e-MSP business for instance the roaming hubs.
Of course, there are a few downsides, the pains, in running a e-MSP business. First, it requires continuous development from your side to stay relevant, to be attractive and to keep your position in the market. Examples of are developing plug and charge solutions, implementing the right payment models and seamless experience charging apps from an end-user perspective. Second, finding the right partners that offer a large roaming network for your customers or can provide services to make your work more effective. Doing so make sure you look for an independent partner to avoid derailing of your vision and mission in the future because another hidden agenda is being played.
Next week, we will discuss the needed solutions in the e-Mobility ecosystem, viewed from the perspective of the e-MSP. In the meantime, if you have any questions or want to know more about how Last Mile Solutions can support your business, please take a look at our e-MSP solution or get in touch.
What does it take to become a successful e-MSP? It all depends on your ambition and the market you want to become active, locally or international. The picture shown above displays several solutions one can think of. Our solutions are developed based on our 13+ years’ experience in e-Mobility and in such a way that we can support anyone who wants to start an e-MSP business without the need for large investments upfront. Interested in our solutions? Three standard e-MSP solutions are available which are tailored around your ambition and based on dozens of proven customer needs throughout the years.
- e-MSP Essential: The basic package for every e-Mobility Service Provider.
- e-MSP Pro: Looking for more than just the basics? Everything the Essential package has, including e.g. customized features.
- e-MSP Enterprise: For a complete enterprise solution. Everything the Pro package and all the customized features.
In case you are more advanced already and in need of a more specific solution, we provide a modular solution as well. It is also possible to combine the roles of e-MSP and CPO as a modular solution.
We are looking forward to offering you the most experienced and independent e-Mobility solution out there. Please get in touch in case you have any questions, we are happy to help!