Port Community System: What it holds for Indian maritime trade?

The pan-India Port Community System employs a cloud-based technology that seeks to integrate multiple stakeholders from maritime trade on a single platform. It is intended to integrate the electronic flow of trade-related document/information and function as the centralized hub for the ports of India and other stakeholders like Shipping Lines/Agents, Surveyors, Stevedores, Banks, Container Freight Stations, Customs House Agents, Importers, Exporters, Railways/CONCOR, Government regulatory agencies, etc. for exchanging electronic messages in a secure manner.

The Indian Ports Association, in order to ease the business and make transactions smooth and hassle-free for the trading community, had awarded a contract to Portall (part of Mumbai-based logistics conglomerate JM Baxi Group) to roll out a pan-India PCS.

According to a media report, Portall had signed up with Razorpay for facilitating payments, which will avoid the dependency on bank-specific payment ecosystem.

According to a shipping ministry official, the aim is to make money transactions smooth and hassle-free. “Talks are also on with others to make the payment system convenient and fool-proof,” he added.

Facilitating Maritime Trade

The PCS, designed to handle 27 different maritime stakeholders’ category was launched in December 2018 at all major ports simultaneously. It handles categories like major/non-major ports, inland container depots, container freight stations, empty yards, freight forwarders and ship chandlers.

The Portall PCS since its launch has seen 70,000 transactions daily made by 14000 users. The transactions included modules related to customs, finance, cargo and transport.

The system is cloud-based and integrates the work-flow seamlessly and hence has the least chance of data breach, the official said.

Port Community System: Benefits

The adoption of Portal PCS will improve e-delivery and payment facility in maritime trades. Also, it will improve visibility, reduce time and cost along with documentation work. The platform also provides services like enhanced user interface, mobile application, notification engine, workflow, track and trace etc. And, this results in the improvement of businesses.

Apart from that, Port Community System can latch on to third-party software providing services to the maritime industry, thus enabling access to a wide network of services for the stakeholders.

Port Community System: Origins

PCSs in Europe have a long tradition. The first to be established in ports in Germany, France and the UK began to operate in the late 70s or early 80s. Countries such as the Netherlands and Spain started their PCSs in the 1990s or at the turn of the century.

Key drivers for the establishment of Port Community Systems were, on the one hand, the need for a standardised communication platform in order to improve the systems in terms of punctuality, reliability or costs and, on the other hand, the need to increase competitive position among ports.

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