EMSP and CPO: the two sides of EV charging network operators

The current climate emergency and the latest measures taken to accelerate decarbonisation globally shed a lot more light on the EV industry, thus generating new business opportunities.

This claim isn’t based on a gut feeling. A quick look at Google Trends shows that EV charging has never been a trendier topic.

Of course, more interest also means more questions from newcomers.

Now, if EV charging is a world that’s full of opportunities for businesses and energy companies, it’s also full of complexities, specific roles and responsibilities. We believe that it’s paramount for companies seeking to build an EV charging business to understand what options are available to them.

In this blog post, you’ll learn what e-Mobility Service Providers (EMSP, or sometimes EMP) and Charge Point Operators (CPO) are all about.

EMSP and CPO definitions

What is an e-Mobility Service Provider?

An e-mobility service provider is a company offering an EV charging service to EV drivers. An EMSP creates value for its customers (EV drivers) by providing access to multiple charging points around a geographic area.

What is a Charge Point Operator?

A Charge Point Operator (CPO) is a company operating a pool of charging points. A CPO creates value by providing smart charging features to EMSPs.

Charge Point Operators vs Charge Point Owners

EV charging is full of abbreviations, and some might be confusing. For instance, Charge Point Operators and Charge Point Owners are commonly referred to as CPOs, even though their roles aren’t entirely similar.

  • A charge point owner … owns a charging infrastructure.
  • A charge point operator … provides the owner with the connection to an EMSP. Of course, in some cases, an operator can also be the owner of charging infrastructures, and vice versa.

In this blog post, we use CPO as an abbreviation for Charge Point Operators.

No EMSP and CPO, no charging network

EMSPs and CPOs are two crucial and interdependent elements of a charging network. Together, they install and manage EV charging stations.

It’s important to note that nothing prevents an EMSP from also taking on the CPO role and vice versa.

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Both roles have their own subtleties, advantages and responsibilities. Let’s dive into it.

What are the responsibilities of an e-Mobility Service Provider (EMSP)?

An e-mobility provider’s primary responsibility is to help EV drivers find charging stations, offer a frictionless charging experience, and offer different payment methods.

Typically, EMSPs only serve registered customers, but they may also grant access for unregistered users, as is sometimes mandated by local law.

What’s more, e-mobility providers can provide access to 3rd party charging networks through roaming. Roaming capabilities are essential as they considerably improve the end-user experience. Just as you can keep using your phone when travelling abroad — and connect through local networks — EV roaming lets EV drivers charge their vehicles through other EV charging networks. 

For EMSPs, roaming also means expanding one’s potential user base as it opens their network to EV drivers initially registered to other charging networks.

What are the responsibilities of a Charge Point Operator (CPO)?

The main responsibility of a CPO is to ensure that their EV charging network is operational, available and stable, round the clock.

That includes: 

  • Regular remote and on-site maintenance
  • Running diagnostics
  • Price settings
  • POI data management.

Build for tomorrow

Another responsibility falling on CPOs is scalability.

First, they need to ensure that their charging points are compatible with the latest industry standards and protocols such as OCPP, OCPI, OCSP, and the recent ISO 15118.

Additionally, CPOs can grow their business with smart(er) energy management systems like bidirectional charging and V2G technology.

Smart energy management solutions can reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) by: 

  • Improving energy demand management during peak hours 
  • Integrating more renewables into the energy mix 
  • Improving energy storage management
  • Providing an excellent EV charging experience
  • Building future-proof EV charging networks

Discover EV charging as a service with Virta

From setting up infrastructures to developing back and front end services and finding customers, starting an EV charging activity from scratch is a costly journey.

The solution to that one problem is EV charging as a service; a solution that’s designed for customers who act either as CPOs and/or EMSPs.

The EV charging as a service you get from Virta includes both hardware delivery, installation and maintenance, as well as the software to run it. With our solution, you don’t have to pay upfront for the equipment and installation, just as you would with any other subscription-based service.

An EV charging platform for EMSPs and CPOs

With Virta, EV charging as a service meets both EMSPs’ and CPOs’ needs. Let us take care of all EV charging complexities and deliver a turnkey solution adapted to your needs and business plan.

Read more about our EV charging as a service with Virta.


For instance, hundreds of EMSP and CPOs already work with Virta and benefit from:

  • a turnkey service that’s up and running in no time.
  • a solution that grows with them and see their cost of customer acquisition decrease as they grow.
  • only having one contract, thus eliminating all complexities of EV charging.
  • an access to an ever growing pool of +350k EV drivers across Europe.

If you're interested in learning more about building an EV charging business, leaf through our EV charging business guide. 👇

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