Western Union exec talks about inclusive services

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  • For 167 years, legacy brand Western Union has been used by consumers around the world to exchange money
  • Western Union is keeping up with fintechs, according to reports
  • Western Union is known for its relatively affordable overseas transfer rates


In an interview with PSFK, Western Union executive for Marketing and Field Execution, North America Mike Hafer said that the legacy brand is using demographics data to build finance technology that is future-proof.

For 167 years, consumers have relied on Western Union to transfer money internationally and to exchange currencies, but as the world shifts to online-based services, old brands like WU are reportedly feeling the pressure to do the same thing as well. However, Western Union is not just going to shift to a more high-tech system to make room for its millennial audience, it has “chosen to embrace its multi-generational” consumers, PSFK writes. In fact, it can be seen from its ads that any Western Union campaign focuses on thoughtful products that speak to all generations.

When asked how other brands in the industry are doing in developing services that include people of all ages, Hafer said: “Brands are understandably looking to capitalize on growing demographic segments, particularly millennials and Gen Z, but focusing too heavily on one segment limits inclusion.” Hafer proceeded to give the magazine an example noting that many international money transfer brands tailor products and services “to cater to millennials, leaving out generations that haven’t always operated in a digital-first environment without comparative servicing”. He said that based on the company’s demographic breakdown, 40% of WU customers in the United States are over 50 years old. “To exclude this generation would be a huge loss”, Hafer said.  

The growth of mobile-based money transfers gave birth to a number of challenger banks and mobile-first fintechs. Apart from digital banking and transfers, peer-to-peer transfer services also entered the market even before fintechs started making a splash in the global finance industry. This promotes inclusiveness as they make it possible for the world’s unbanked to receive and send money with just a few clicks. Analysts note though that they are making an oversight. According to Hafer, the brand is “investing heavily in digital growth” while ensuring that it maintains what it is known for: “retain cash-to-cash business to service”.

Apart from its affordable rates, Western Union has always been multi-generational in its approach. According to Hafer, the brand “has always placed importance on catering to all generations”. He added that its business strategy has always focused on access to services at physical locations. The brand also makes it possible for anyone to send money through the app or website.

Western Union pays attention to its demographics. In the United States, those who are sending remittances to families and friends abroad are “over 50 years in age”, Hafer said. This population is reportedly “1.3 times more than other age groups”.

Western Union has evolved through the years and has successfully connected the physical world with the digital through its agent locations around the world and its website and app.

Find out more about the remittance industry by following our magazine.


Daniel Webber
Daniel Webber
Founder & CEO
Daniel is Founder and CEO at FXcompared and has numerous years of experience in the international finance world, especially within the media, technology and property sectors. Daniel is passionate… Read more

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