Despite, e-payments not being a top priority for Customs at that time, Customs saw the opportunity to take on this invitation and make it work for the sake of trade facilitation in Vanuatu.
It took the Technicians of Customs, BRED and Engineering Business Service Limited (EBS) over a year to work on this initiative to ensure it was well implemented and well tested. Finally, pending its official launching, on Friday 28th June 2019 (exactly a year since the initial talks began), Customs received, for the first time ever, an online payment from an Importer via the BRED BillPay facility directly into the ASYCUDA system. The platform is now truly ONLINE and ready for use!
The commitment of Customs, BRED and EBS to making this happen, saw Vanuatu becoming the first ever Pacific Island country to implement the Online Payment facility between a Commercial Bank and its Customs system. Only a couple of ASYCUDA countries in Asia are also using the same e-payment framework. Besides already being able to lodge Declarations online, Traders and Customs Brokers in Vanuatu are now able to do Payments online, print their Receipts online and obtain their Release Orders online! This is basically the entire Customs process now fully automated online in Vanuatu.
This latest development also means that Customs is the only Government Department using real-time e-payment between its system and a Commercial Bank. It may also be one of the limited number of entities, both private and public, in Vanuatu who have achieved such a milestone.
This facility can also be used by Traders and Brokers to top up on their Customs prepaid accounts without having to physically visit a Customs Office to do so. Furthermore, with the current development of the Vanuatu electronic Single Window (VeSW) System, Traders will witness this facility being extended to receive payment for the other agencies connected to the VeSW System.
The advantages of doing Online Payments speaks for themselves. Traders using this 24/7 facility will experience a reduction in processing time, reduced costs, by avoiding the traffic and queues, resulting in faster clearance of their consignments both during import and export.
Traders and Brokers are therefore encouraged to use this facility for their own benefit. Those entities who are not with BRED Bank might want to consider opening an account with BRED for the purpose of settling their payments online with Customs. Furthermore, other Banks are encouraged to talk to Customs to implement this online facility for their own Customers to use.