Mobile satellite services provider Vizada has developed a Universal Card Crew order service, enabling seafarers to purchase communications credit on an individual basis.
The service gives crew the opportunity to purchase cards and credit onboard without the need for a pre-existing account or permission requirements and with the freedom to choose pricing options as cards worth 30 or 50 minutes are available for purchase.
To make use of the card system, crew must connect to Vizada’s Universal Card Manager online management system through an Inmarsat Fleetbroadband or Iridium Openport terminal onboard and payment is taken through a typical online purchasing system.
Erik Ceuppens, chief executive emphasised the benefits of the new card system in freeing ship managers and captains of administrative burdens by placing the process wholly in the hands of individual crew members. Speaking with SMI, Mr Ceuppens also described how increased opportunities to access communications services can have a beneficial impact on crew wellbeing.
“A major driver for us is making it possible for crew to keep in touch with their home front. Going back, we introduced pre-paid cards for voice communication many years ago but I think the innovation now is that we go beyond voice with the philosophy of low cost communications for crew, enabling them to use the latest technologies. There is a change taking place, from voice communications, to email and chat communications which are allowing them to keep in touch.”
Mr Ceuppens also described the importance of attracting young seafarers through technology and emphasised the need to keep crew entertained. “We have very important broadband projects, driven by concerns for crew welfare and also crew retention for shipping companies who put money into training people and would like to keep them” he said, adding: “We have seen these kinds of requirements go into the background a little bit during the financial crisis but they are coming back to the forefront now, which is good news. It is important for companies to be in tune with the latest technologies and provide more or less the same environment that seafarers would have onshore.”