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The Philippine Multimodal Transport and Logistics Association, Inc. (PMTLAI) will conduct a trial run in October for eCargolink, an online payment facility that enables its members to settle shipping line and port charges in real time.

The two-week pilot will involve shipping line OOCL (Phils.), Inc. and PMTLAI member freight forwarders Kintetsu Worldwide Express (Philippines), Inc., Move It Multimodal and Transport Logistics, Inc., STAMM International Inc., and Hankyu Hanshin Express Philippines, Inc.

eCargolink is a web-based application with an interface with banking institutions for online payment of shipping line and port operator charges by freight forwarders. The system involves Banco De Oro Corporate Banking Services for the pilot test.

Developed by IC Technologies, Inc., the facility will enable freight forwarders to make online payments and secure faster release of cargoes from the port, PMTLAI president Marilyn Alberto told PortCalls in an email.
In addition to online payment, Alberto said eCargolink will enable shipping lines to submit the delivery order (DO) to freight forwarders.

Tedious process
The current process for cargo release is tedious. It requires the shipping line to issue the invoice and bill of lading (B/L) to the freight forwarder. This triggers the freight forwarder to make a withdrawal from the bank or an over-the-counter payment or e-transfer of funds to pay the shipping line either in cash or through the latter’s designated banks. After receiving payment, the shipping line issues a receipt; then the freight forwarder’s processors will have to go to the shipping line office to queue, a process that sometimes takes from half a day to a whole day.

IC Technologies sales and marketing manager Katreena Michelle Ulit, in a presentation during PMTLAI’s general membership meeting on September 20, said eCargolink is mobile-ready and allows freight forwarders to process release of shipments in the comfort of their office.

The freight forwarder can secure the invoice and B/L from the shipping line through eCargolink, and then encode and make the payment to the affiliated bank without leaving the office.

The bank will then send the payment confirmation to eCargolink and the shipping line, and the carrier will acknowledge payment with a confirmation sent through the online facility and finally issue the DO to the terminal operator.

Ulit said OOCL has committed to establishing an internal KPI (key performance indicator) so that the electronic DO is immediately issued once the carrier is notified of the freight forwarder’s payment.

Cutting costs, less delays
Ulit explained that online processing will reduce additional costs such as transportation expenses relating to queuing at the shipping line’s office and at the bank; bank charges; and other administrative costs.

The online process may also reduce possible delays in the release of cargoes, as delays can incur demurrage and storage costs. It may also eliminate questions about authenticity of the DO and the identification of officer authorized to withdraw the container from the terminal.

Moving forward, Ulit said eCargolink aims to include other major banks and payment facilities, as well as additional shipping lines, and effect integration with more terminal operators.

The group is also looking at having an electronic endorsement of documents accepted by shipping lines and by government agencies such as the Bureau of Customs and Philippine Economic Zone Authority. – Roumina Pablo

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