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Forwarder shifl wades into cargo payment space

shifl plans to eventually offer its payment tool as a white labeled product to other supply chain parties, including other third-party logistics providers. Photo credit: Shutterstock.com.

Freight forwarder shifl on Thursday released a new payment product that tethers shipment visibility data to the ability to pay vendors, including payments to terminals to get cargo cleared faster.

The product, shifl.capital, allows shippers, carriers, forwarders, brokers, terminals, truckers, and warehouse operators to initiate and accept instant and free digital payments. The product uses financial infrastructure from the payment platform Evolve Bank & Trust to enable payments.

It’s part of a continuing trend of payment options aimed at the global logistics industry, notably the growth of PayCargo and Melio in digitizing payments between forwarders and other parties.

shifl CEO Shabsie Levy told JOC.com that developing a payment product that works in concert with its visibility product enables shippers to time their payments in accordance with the actual location of their shipments. Whereas shippers might traditionally use an arrival notice or other vendor-generated milestone to trigger a payment, it would instead be able to monitor whether the shipment’s estimated time of arrival (ETA) is delayed and adjust the payment time accordingly.

“The ETA is normally based on the arrival notice, which is often inaccurate,” Levy said. “So the shippers run into situations where they’ve paid, but there’s an issue with the release, and they find out way too late.”

Working capital benefits

Timing payments to more accurate cargo milestones allows shippers to hold onto working capital longer, while the electronic nature of the payment software through Brex allows payments to be made instantly, Levy contends.

Payees using shifl.capital can also get instant access to funds to pay their own vendors or remit to bank accounts. Companies receiving payments from shifl’s platform that are not users would receive payments as they would other electronic payments.

The payment product is available with no fees for users of shifl’s platform, which can be used independently of its core freight forwarding services to get shipment visibility and a range of cargo dashboards. Vendors that use the platform can offer customers instant cargo release and application programming interface (API)-accessible invoice and arrival information.

Aside from helping shippers preserve working capital on delayed container arrivals, the tool can be used to avoid penalties such as demurrage, storage fees, and retailer chargebacks by timing instant payments to coincide with those cutoffs.

Levy said shifl.capital is being rolled out to current shifl users, and that the company plans to eventually white label the payment product to other parties, including competitors in the forwarding industry.

“We’re moving away from us being limited to using our software and it’s just us, and to work with different providers, an ecosystem of companies where the operations and transactions are modernized,” he said. “We’re combining LogTech and FinTech. That’s what’s possible in today’s world.”