Platinum Creditplus goes beyond addressing financial needs to help the country’s modern day heroes
As the whole world reopens in the wake of the pandemic, the demand for maritime employees have increased. This means cruise lines, shipping companies, and more are looking for competent and hardworking Filipinos to join their team.
This is a great opportunity for many Filipinos to provide a better future for their families, but becoming a maritime professional is not just challenging, it could also be expensive. And with inflation on the rise around the globe, almost everybody’s having a hard time finding the means to afford the fees needed to become a seaman/woman.
This is where Platinum Creditplus Lending Corp, one of the most trusted lending companies for seafarers, could help them achieve their dreams as well as provide assistance for current maritime workers to maintain their employment status.
AN OPPORTUNITY TO HELP
Mr. Ricaredo Largo is a seasoned ship bosun (an officer in charge of equipment and the crew) and has been a PCLC client since 2015. According to him, there are several reasons why seafarers like him seek help from trustworthy companies like PCLC.
In Mr. Largo’s experience, financial assistance is needed due to regular trainings seafarers are required to take, which could be expensive.
“This will drain your savings,” he shares. “Added to that, when your vacation period is unexpectedly extended, your finances can dry up.”
Another reason could be health-related. He explains, “The medical examination, which is done every time one goes on board, could become a financial burden — especially for aging seafarers when there are unexpected findings that have to be addressed in order to be certified ‘fit to go onboard’. We shoulder this cost as well.”
Ms. Desiree P. Sillar, president of Bright Maritime Corporation, adds that the “no work, no pay” scheme is another burden most seafarers have.
“All seafarers are on a contractual basis, which means that if they are on vacation, they have no income,” she explains. “Sometimes they do not have any alternative sources of income and their savings are not enough, so many have resorted to loans, but have difficulty paying due to delayed deployment.”
In order to overcome these challenges, most seafarers resort to having ‘sideline’ jobs during their break as well as borrowing money. Applying for a personal loan through lending companies is also more appealing for them because collateral loans could be a hassle for most. Mr. Largo answers, “Unlike banks, lending companies process loans very fast, just what we need.”
In her years of running a maritime agency, Ms. Sillar has observed that financial problems affect not just the seafarer, but their families as well.
“Usually problems regarding finances also cause misunderstandings between husband and wives; and many times the seafarer feels that his efforts of being away whilst at sea is useless,” she recalls. “If a seafarer is problematic during his tenure on board due to financial matters, this usually results to inefficiency in his job — making him feel that he wants to come back to his family as soon as possible.”
Ms. Sillar recommends that seafarers should be aware of their financial limitations especially when it comes to spending, they should consider alternative sources of income to prepare for the future, and — when needed — they should work with a financial institution with minimal interest that can help them secure capital to start their own business.
“I always remind our seafarers that going on board should be just temporary while making a living. Just like any other profession, seamanship should also be a source of bread and butter, thus the seafarer should treat their profession with love and respect,” Ms. Sillar says. “But with this, they must also have a goal plan in life because they cannot go onboard forever. Their job is also very risky. It is important that they know how to take care of their finances and resources and start to invest at the start of their career so that they will be financially stable someday.”
LENDING A HELPING HAND
Since its founding in 2013, PCLC helped Filipinos provide better futures for themselves and their families.
“The Philippines is a seafaring nation, being the country with the most number of deployments. In 2019 alone, we have deployed around 470,000 seafarers for both ratings and officers,” shares Ms. Maria Shela Yap, General Manager of PCLC.
As a business, PCLC realized that seafarers are paid better compared to local wages, which gives them the capacity to pay for loans. Aside from OFW and Seafarer Loans, the company also grants personal loans for various needs, including capital requirements to start a business, school tuition, as well as property and auto loans.
The company did not just find a huge market in the maritime industry, but they also found their purpose in giving reliable service for those who need it the most.
Though the deployment numbers plummeted because of the pandemic, PCLC is optimistic for 2023.
Ms. Yap adds, “2023 deployments look very promising, so there is definitely a huge market to tap in the industry.”
PCLC works to make their services more accessible to more people by investing on better platforms for their services.
“We continue to invest on platforms that provide convenience, speed, transparency, and top-notch service,” Ms. Yap explains. “A good example is the digital access for loan application and release that was initially implemented to adapt to the pandemic years. Now, we still continue to find better and more accessible ways for our clients.”
LESS PROBLEMS, MORE SOLUTIONS
Aside from the initial fees required to start one’s career in the maritime industry, maritime experts and PCLC management has observed that there are other concerns most seafarers encounter.
“During Pandemic, seafarers could not secure their POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration) contract ahead of their departure due to multiple instances of canceled embarkations,” Ms. Yap explains. “Since port of arrivals usually need a 48-hour valid PCR test, seafarers were tested a day before target departure. One crew member with a positive PCR result would result in the cancellation of the entire embarkation of the team. Meanwhile, if the PCR test is negative, seafarers could go to the airport immediately once results are out. There was no way that they could physically apply for a loan.”
PCLC has made the loan process easier and more flexible to adapt to seafarers’ needs by creating digital access for an online loan application for borrowers and co-borrowers, establishing Tele-Operations to do phone-based interviews, and bank deposit loan release for convenience.
“We offer convenience and speed,” Ms. Yap says. “This way, seafarers feel relieved that the families they left behind could still get the loan. Everything is very convenient.”
PCLC also recently partnered with digital banking services like GCash and Maya to make payments easier. “Maya offers an avenue to make the loan payment process very convenient and safe for our clients. The app is very simple and easy to use, just the way we want our service to be: fast, friendly and easy… Our clients will definitely have an easy time using the Maya mobile wallet because it’s very convenient for them to pay their loan despite being onboard a ship and just relying on satellite signal, and there is no need for a co-borrower or their spouse to go to a bank and physically deposit the payment,” she explains.
Ms. Yap reiterates PCLC’s commitment to helping seafarers, the purpose of the company’s existence.
She shares, “Seafarers are modern day heroes, mga bagong bayani. The remittance they send stabilizes our exchange rate against the US dollar. What better way for a business entity to be part of their journey in life if not through a platform where financial services can be extended at friendly interest rates.”
In the coming years, PCLC aims to diversify their portfolio on its way to becoming “the preferred lending company of the seafarers because of the ease, convenience, speed, and transparency we have been offering”.
As the needs of OFWs and Filipino seafarers continue to evolve, PCLC maintains its thrust to maximize technology and innovation to keep addressing the concerns of the country’s modern day heroes by giving them the service they deserve. PCLC ensures current and future clientele that they are working on new ways to provide help with “ease, convenience, speed”.
For more information about PCLC and its services, visit www.platinumcreditplus.com.
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