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APL to take lead with e-payments

APL to take lead with e-payments

   APL is preparing to introduce an electronic payment tool to allow shippers to pay ocean freight for the first time.

   “In a matter of days… we’re launching e-payments in Hong Kong,” said Philip Chin, vice president of e-commerce at APL. After the initial start in Hong Kong, Chin said that the carrier plans to introduce e-payments in Taiwan and then in other regions.

   The company has entered a partnership agreement with a bank, whose name has not been publicized, yet. The e-payments will be activated either through inter-bank transfers or through direct debits.

   In the shipping industry, payments for freight charges could not, until now, be processed using e-commerce, with few exceptions. Carriers found it hard to create electronic tools for payments, while many shippers continue to be skeptical about security aspects when transferring money via the Internet.

   APL will be one of the first carriers to add e-payments to its electronic tools for shippers.

   However, Chin said that APL already offered a facility to allow shippers in the United States, Canada and Mexico to pay container demurrage charges by credit cards.

   In a separate development, APL is upgrading its e-commerce booking tools by bringing together all the information required to complete a booking transaction, including data on vessel space and container equipment.

   Chin said that APL’s new XpressPort online booking tool provides shippers with a “web rate,” sailing schedule data, and a confirmation of both vessel space and equipment availability.

   Contrary to traditional online booking requests, which require formal confirmation by the carrier’s customer service staff, APL’s online booking tools “marry the booking and the equipment and space guarantee,” Chin told American Shipper.

   APL introduced the XpressPort system in Asia and Europe, but only for shipments in the Asia/Europe and Europe/Asia trades. It plans to provide this tool in other regions, including in the U.S. To attract more users to the XpressPort tool, APL is offering a one-time $100 discount for the first booking made through the system.

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