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Manila international ports see surge in online payment

  • 100% of Manila International Container Terminal users and 60% of Manila South Harbor users pay their port charges through online systems
  • 40% of Manila South Harbor users still not paying online use bank deposit reference payment, a temporary manual option no longer available by December 1
  • Payment of port charges through online systems is mandated under Joint Memorandum Circular No. 01-2020  signed in August

More port users are now using online systems to pay their port charges with Manila’s international container terminals.

All users of Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) are already on board its Advance Customer Transaction System (ACTS) as of October, according to the port’s operator, International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI), in a presentation during a recent webinar hosted by Transport Events.

Meanwhile, as of November 17, about 60% of Manila South Harbor users are already using its ePay Portals, said port operator Asian Terminals Inc. (ATI) at the same webinar.

Launched in 2016, the Advance Customer Transaction System or ACTS allows MICT customers to settle their port charges online and print the required documents when they go to deliver or retrieve their cargo. ICTSI has closed its billing center as part of the transition to 100% online payments.

ATI, meanwhile, launched last September a “revitalized version” of its online platform introduced in 2015. The ePay Portals is an online platform for making online payments in real time 24/7, making settling of port fees faster and more convenient for Manila South Harbor stakeholders.

Both ports’ online platforms were fully implemented last October pursuant to Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 01-2020, which mandates the online filing and processing of port applications, as well as the online payment of port dues, fees, cargo-handling and related charges, customs duties and taxes, and shipping line charges.

READ: Online filing of docs, payment for port charges made mandatory

The JMC was signed virtually on August 5 by the Anti-Red Tape Authority, Bureau of Customs, Philippine Ports Authority, and Department of Trade and Industry. It aims to simplify the processing of applications for port permits, licenses, and gate passes for the release of cargoes, and limit face-to-face transactions to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease.

Under the JMC, government agencies and the three Manila port operators ATI, ICTSI, and Harbour Centre Port Terminal, Inc. (HCPTI) should “calibrate their online system and platforms” to ensure smooth implementation of the new order, which should be fully implemented and complied with within 60 days from its effectivity.

After the 60-day period, manual and face-to-face filing of application and payment will no longer be accommodated except under justifiable reasons such as if the online system malfunctions or payment channels are offline.

ATI and ICTSI have had their online payment platforms for years prior to JMC 01-2020 but usage of these had been minimal.

MICT Commercial & Risk Management director Justin Tolentino in his presentation during the webinar indicated that only 9% of clients were using online payment in January to February 2020. Usage gradually increased to 55% in September prior to the full implementation of ACTS in October.

ATI marketing manager Reginald Rivera, in his presentation, showed that only 7% of clients were using South Harbor’s ePay Portals as of September. This increased to 40% from October 13 to 23, and to 60% from October 24 to November 17.

Rivera explained that the remaining 40% not paying online are still using the bank deposit reference (BDR) payment process, which is a temporary payment option for clients registered with ATI’s online facility called Webtrack. Rivera said BDR is still considered manual as it involves verification by ATI’s tellers. By December 1, the BDR option will no longer be available.

Rivera noted that issues with the implementation of the ePay Portals last October were mostly due to users being unfamiliar with the system, but “since then that has improved,” with more users already paying online.

Rivera later said they are hoping all clients will be on board by end of the year. – Roumina Pablo


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