WebCargo® by Freightos unveiled a major efficiency innovation this week when it announced a premier in the world of online air cargo booking: the launch of its integrated airline payment functionality. CargoForwarder Global (CFG) wanted to know more about this marriage of “FinTech and FreighTech” and asked Manel Galindo (MG), CEO of WebCargo by Freightos, to explain.
“Freight and payments are foundations of global trade, but both introduce friction. Until today, forwarders booked cargo on one platform and paid on another, which is like shopping on Amazon but paying on Paypal,” Zvi Schreiber, CEO of the Freightos Group, announced. “We aim to digitalize both on one platform, improving how forwarders and carriers interact and providing a better experience for importers and exporters.”
Parting with money has never been easier
WebCargo has made it possible: air freight bookings carried out online can now also be paid within the same platform – at least for forwarders located in the United States, Europe, and the United Kingdom. Asia is planned to follow shortly. The press release sent out on 26MAY22, points to a successful pilot carried out together with Qatar Airways Cargo and IAG Cargo, as well as thirty participating forwarders, which saw more than 100,000 bookings being paid for via the platform in the first quarter of this year. “While freight technology has grown increasingly efficient, the separation of freight procurement and payment remains a hurdle, leading to cumbersome reconciliation, time wasted on transfers to multiple partners, and expensive credit guarantees,” the release outlines. That is now a thing of the past.
WebCargo® by Freightos is the first cargo booking platform to offer a functioning solution “unify[ing] real-time rates and booking with payments, thanks also to ‘Freightos’ global payment expertise, which already facilitates tens of millions of dollars in annual payments.” The successful conclusion of the pilot phase means that WebCargo is now focusing on expanding the payment offer to include more airlines and regions, as Manel Galindo (MG), CEO of WebCargo by Freightos, illustrates in the following interview:
CFG: When is it going live?
MG: It's already live! We've been running the pilot for a few months but now that it's been validated - and loved - we are expanding it to new forwarders and territories across our platform.
CFG: Is this open for all freight forwarding users of WebCargo, or do they have to register in some way? How long does registration take?
MG: It is open for all freight forwarders in the USA, Europe, and the UK. Those who are yet not a WebCargo customer can be enrolled in under than 24 hours. We are in the process of expanding its coverage.
CFG: What/who is the payment operator behind it - inhouse or third party? Is it a kind of PayPal/Stripe for WebCargo?
MG: We partner with strategic suppliers that are duly licensed to operate in this field. From our customers' perspective, it’s just another eBooking on WebCargo. We can offer different financial alternatives to the freight forwarder depending on their needs and location. We are relying, in part, on some of the expertise developed across freightos.com's digital payments, which handle tens of millions of dollars in payments annually.
CFG: Two airlines use this so far - will all airlines move towards it, or are there some objections? And how will users know which airlines accept payment like that and which don't? (Can they be filtered? Will the offers be prioritized differently?)
MG: We ran the trial with two airline groups, and now we are in the process of making it available to all our airline partners. Their reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, in part because we maintain the same user interface and customer experience which has allowed us to reach thousands of daily bookings for our airline partners. Our customers will be notified every time a new airline starts using this product.
CFG: The payment is made at the original booking - what about changes to the booking/cancellations/updates? Are any reimbursements/amendments also possible via this payment channel?
MG: That's a fabulous question. One of the most significant advantages of integrated booking and payment is the ability to automatically reconcile as changes occur to bookings. We are aiming at stomping out cumbersome reconciliations. I don't think anyone will miss them.
CFG: How is security ensured?
MG: We pride ourselves on top-notch security, including military grade encryption and relevant ISO certificates. Even without payments, international freight is incredibly sensitive - we have always made sure to treat it as such.
Many thanks, Manel Galindo!
The praise published in WebCargo®’s press release from its pilot users, speaks for itself.
UK-based freight forwarder, Nirav Gandhi, Managing Director at Spring World, stated: “Since we started using WebCargo, our business has increased significantly. We started with WebCargo six months ago, and it is now our main booking platform. It’s brilliant and a godsend. We are able to place a paid for and confirmed booking in just ten minutes.”
Speaking for launch pilot, Qatar Airways Cargo, its COO, Guillaume Halleux, said: “Integrated payments is a natural progression from digital bookings. By unifying payments with bookings, we can provide more effective and efficient service to a growing base of customers worldwide, safely, and securely. As a matter of fact, this technology opens new frontiers to airlines by allowing them to accept bookings from every freight forwarder in a given market without having to setup or maintain a stock of AWB.”
Peter Roberts, Head of Distribution at IAG Cargo, the second pilot airline, commented: “We are delighted to be part of WebCargo by Freightos’ new integrated payment platform, which supports our objective of streamlining the customer journey. It is an extremely exciting time for the industry. At IAG Cargo we’re continually looking at ways to drive efficiencies for customers – this partnership is a natural continuation of our work with Freightos and helps to significantly reduce the time it takes for a new customer to book with IAG Cargo safely and securely.”
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