05 August 2021

Seafarers are benefiting from lower costs, easier access, and increased certainty in dealing with their money, thanks to BSM NiumPay, a customised, digital payment platform.

BSM will now be using its experience in developing and implementing this transformative system, offering consulting services to ship owners and ship managers looking for support in introducing a digital payment solution to their fleets.

The shipping industry has always been conservative and that has been reflected in the continuing reliance on cash, says BSM Finance Manager Dennis Moehlmann. Cash to Master (CTM), the delivery of currency to a ship when in port, can be an expensive service, with charges as high as 5% in some locations. Meanwhile, seafarers receiving US dollars on board have historically endured poor exchange rates and high fees when sending their money home.

In seeking to set up an accessible digital payment system for seafarers, BSM considered several ready-to-go solutions. “However, none really fitted into our aims, so we decided we needed a customised solution,” says Dennis.

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“We partnered with Nium, a Singapore-based fintech company, to develop a solution that is not only BSM branded but also provides our seafarers with a digital solution which really gives them an advantage. We negotiated extremely good rates for banking. We wanted a solution that is very easy, fast and reliable. With BSM NiumPay, we are absolutely ahead of the game, technically and in terms of functionality.”

BSM NiumPay eliminates the need to wait for the next port call before having access to funds and it provides the capability to send money in real time from any user to any other user, from office to vessel, from vessel master to seafarer, and from seafarer to home and family.

Equipped with a multicurrency e-wallet, users can hold money in different currencies. A Filipino seafarer, for example, can exchange his dollars to Philippine pesos and know precisely how much money he is sending home – free of uncertain exchange rates and unexpected or unclear bank charges. All these processes can be done on a mobile phone. Seafarers are also provided with a complimentary VISA debit card.

Launched after a ten-vessel trial, BSM NiumPay is being rapidly rolled out across the fleet. By mid-June, about 450 seafarers were using the system. “It isn’t compulsory – some don’t use it,” says Dennis. “But it is a free offer to our seafarers and the majority want to use it. To support them in this, we prepared detailed training material, including a YouTube video.”

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This has been a change management project, he points out – after all, payments have been made in physical cash for years. “However, young people who have grown up with smart phones will be expecting a modern way of being paid, and our older seafarers are also very tech savvy.”

Getting the internal processes right has been paramount. Having done the work and led the way, BSM is now offering the solution as a package, including training, support and consultancy, to other ship owners and managers keen to take the digital payments journey.

For further information, please read BSM launches digital payment platform for seafarers