MarCoPay Expands Financial Services for Filipino Seafarers

Fintech startup MarCoPay is enhancing its financial services tailored for Filipino seafarers, introducing QR-code payments and loans to improve convenience and security for those at sea.

MarCoPay President Toshiaki Fujioka highlighted the company’s unique approach in serving seafarers, differentiating it from traditional financial institutions. Based in Manila, MarCoPay offers a suite of digital services through a mobile app, including e-money wage payments, cash remittances, loans, and insurance.

This fall, MarCoPay will introduce a QR-code payment service in the Philippines, allowing seafarers to shop at supermarkets and other retailers by simply scanning a QR code. The company has also reduced remittance fees to further benefit its users.

Seafarers typically spend extended periods on ships, receiving salaries in cash, which poses security risks and complicates money transfers. MarCoPay addresses these challenges by enabling sailors to receive salaries as e-money via the app, transfer cash to local bank accounts, and benefit from discounted remittance fees. Additionally, a partnership with Visa allows customers to use prepaid Visa cards abroad.

The Philippines, the largest source of merchant sailors globally, had over 223,000 seafarers in 2024, making up about 15% of the world’s total. These workers are among the best-paid in the country. MarCoPay, founded in 2019 as a joint venture between Nippon Yusen and Transnational Diversified Group, has since attracted investments from Marubeni and MUFG Bank, aiming to expand its reach in Southeast Asia.

With over 20,000 registered users and contracts with 50 out of 300 crewing companies in the Philippines, MarCoPay anticipates rapid growth. Fujioka projects the user base will increase to 50,000-60,000 soon.

MarCoPay partners with local banks and insurance companies, including BDO Unibank and Security Bank, to enhance financial access for seafarers, who often face credit challenges despite steady incomes. The app keeps seafarers connected with financial institutions while they are at sea.

Initially aimed at helping seafarers buy agricultural equipment, MarCoPay now receives over 1,000 monthly inquiries about purchasing Kubota machines, as many sailors and their families are involved in farming.

Remittances to the Philippines, including those from seafarers, totaled $40 billion in 2023, representing 9.2% of the country’s GDP. The Southeast Asian fintech market is highly competitive, with significant growth expected. Key players like Grab, Gojek, and GCash dominate the region, but MarCoPay aims to stand out by focusing on the niche market of seafarers.

“Our app is tailored to the unique needs of Filipino seafarers, setting us apart from competitors,” Fujioka said. “By filling these gaps, we believe we can leverage our strengths rather than imitate other companies.”

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