As shipping moves away from cash-to-master and is searching for digital solutions, the Covid 19 pandemic has markedly accelerated interest in card and digital payments for crews and their families around the world. The trend is underscored by ship agent GAC’s announcement last week of the suspension of cash-to-master services in Singapore.
With this growing trend, Florida-based ShipMoney has launched ShipMoney Virtual Cards and the Transfer Marketplace, two new services designed to expedite payments to crew members and their families while providing a broad range of remittance options. ShipMoney’s Virtual Card solution utilises Visa’s virtual card technology, which enables crew members to immediately access their wages from anywhere in the world while onboard or at home, directly from the ShipMoney App.
ShipMoney Virtual Cards essentially provide the same feature functionality as a physical Visa card, allowing seafarers to send money, initiate mobile top-ups and card-to-card transfers, as well as shop online and use their ShipMoney Virtual Cards with mobile wallets. Crew members also have the option of obtaining a physical card and companion cards for family and friends.
Stuart Ostrow, president of ShipMoney, commented: “We are all deeply concerned about the struggles seafarers are facing and are doing everything possible to help them and their families during this crisis. Our Virtual Card solution and Transfer Marketplace provide efficient and cost-effective ways for companies to pay their crew in real-time, enabling them to disburse wages at more frequent intervals. Money is rapidly placed in the hands of crew and their families at a time when they urgently need it.”
A second feature being introduced by ShipMoney is the Transfer Marketplace, a proprietary online platform that enables seafarers to directly access multiple remittance partners before sending money, comparing fees, costs, and delivery times, and highlighting the least expensive option.
Cash in general has been a victim of the coronavirus with societies moving quicker and more wholeheartedly towards a cashless economy. For instance, withdrawals from ATMs were down 60% in Japan and the UK last month.
Digital payment tech breakthroughs for crew are happening quickly this year. In March, for instance, Splash reported the world’s first onboard use of digital currency took place via the MarCoPay fintech platform, which is operated by Japan’s Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) and the Philippine-owned Transnational Diversified Group (TDG).
Using MarCoPay, onboard purchases of daily necessities have been done digitally on a number of vessels, including those operated by other companies, and even in an unstable onboard communication environment.
NYK and TDG are now preparing for a full launch, which will include the transmission of funds overseas to family members, by improving the efficiency of digital settlements and international remittances, promoting cashless operations onboard, and expanding the network in which MarCoPay can be used by shipowners and shipmanagement companies outside NYK.