Western Union focuses on digitisation after revenue hiccup


Daniel Webber
Daniel Webber
Founder & CEO
Daniel is Founder and CEO and has 20 years of experience in the international finance world focusing on cross-border payments, technology and the property sectors. Daniel is widely quoted as an expert… Read more
  • Remittance giant Western Union suffered from a slightly lower revenue in Q4
  • The brand is focusing on digitisation, according to Hikmet Ersek, WU’s CEO
  • Digital transactions through Western Union saw an increase in 2018


Western Union will continue its digital expansion despite their recent revenue hiccup. The remittance brand is focusing on the future, according to its CEO Hikmet Ersek after shares dipped on 7 February when the company released its Q4 earnings. The company's revenue was below estimates, reports say.

The remittance giant says that it still has a positive outlook for 2019 as management feels “confident” about their operations. The hiccup is nothing but a small problem. While talking to the media, Ersek focused on their digital strategy and the technology that they will be integrating into their online platform.

“In 2019, we will continue to execute our strategy to deliver strong digital expansion, offer our cross-border platform to new payments areas and generate additional operating efficiencies”, Ersek told reporters on Friday.

Although the brand has maintained the absolute importance of its brick and mortar remittance centres, Ersek added that Western Union’s “strong digital growth” is one of the major contributors to their share of the market. Western Union is one of the world’s most well-known money transfer brands and its agent locations are familiar to millions of migrants who transfer money internationally on a regular basis. It is also known for its affordable overseas transfer rates. Ersek further added that the company saw a 25% increase in its transactions in Q4.

WU made $212 million in Q4. This is good news compared to 2017 when it reported a loss of $1.1 billion. Business is doing well, observers note, as the money transfer firm recently announced that its website is now live in over 60 countries.

WU CFO Raj Agrawal noted that the company is “evaluating” its options for its various business units. The American corporation, according to Agrawal, is actively looking into new opportunities to increase its reach in the cross-border payments market.

With digitisation quickly becoming mainstream, Western Union is adopting what challenger banks are doing.

“Digital growth and expansion [are] happening all over the world, and the longer-term growth for Western Union is providing services for a reality that is digitizing more as we speak”, Agrawal said. He further noted that the company will be focusing on mobile-based payments.

The goal is to ensure that customers have a lot of channels to choose from and can send cash if they want to send cash or transfer funds from their account to a family member’s. Agrawal explained that this was made possible by the brand to ensure that they can choose what is most convenient for them.

The brand is not just concentrating on personal remittances though, as it has been offering third parties to leverage its services. One shining example is its partnership with Amazon that allows customers to pay for their purchases through WU’s remittance centres. The two giants are piloting the programme in 10 countries.

Safaricom is also using the brand for its M-PESA money transfer service so it can reach people in areas where WU operates.
Get the latest updates from the remittance industry here.

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