Western Union goes digital and it’s bigger than any fintech


Daniel Webber
Daniel Webber
Founder & CEO
Daniel is Founder and CEO of FXcompared and has 18 years of experience in the international finance world focusing on cross-border payments, technology and the property sectors. Daniel is widely… Read more
  • One of the executives of Western Union in North America said that the money transfer brand is ‘pursuing digital innovation’
  • The upgrades are enterprise-wide to increase options for consumers
  • The company has been undergoing a ‘dramatic digital transformation’

Western Union is pursuing an enterprise-wide digital transformation, according to one of its executives in North America. The move has been going on for over a decade and it does not have only millennials and digital natives in mind.

In 2011, the brand launched Western Union Digital in San Francisco where it later incubated WU’s app and web-based projects. By 2017, Western Union’s app was the most downloaded app in the industry.

Due to WU’s attention to detail and its inclusive technology, it processed $300 billion worth of transfers in 2017 alone.

In 2017, the WU mobile app became one of the most widely used international money transfer apps, which is now able to send money to over 200 countries and territories in 130 currencies, and to billions of consumer bank accounts.

Inclusive technology

Based on a PSFK interview with Western Union’s Mike Hafer, the legacy brand has been working on “increasing consumers’ choice of money transfer options” noting that said changes are age inclusive. The money transfer firm offers bank to bank services, website, app, app to cash, ATM, and branch transactions. Due to the many choices customers have, WU is among the world’s largest money transfer firms that offer reliable and easily accessible service.

Apart from ensuring better access to financial services, the brand also makes sure that it offers affordable overseas transfer rates. It is noted by Western Union that it places importance on its brick and mortar components as they make it easier for people to transfer money internationally.

Western Union says that it wants its technology to be inclusive since its biggest consumer are in their 50s and older. “Over the past decade it has been undergoing a dramatic digital transformation to bolster the company’s portfolio of offerings. In fact, 70% of Western Union’s digital transactions globally now originate on a mobile device,” Hafer said. He also noted that the firm wants to get rid of barriers that stop consumers from sending money through WU.

Demographics data not accurate

Western Union believes that fintechs got it all wrong when it comes to digital usage. In fact, the brand challenges “assumptions that any generation wouldn’t necessarily adapt well to digital since they haven’t always had access to this type of technology”. In fact, Western Union says that the data many in the industry refer to is not accurate and that “financial services brands mustn’t overlook any generation as they build out these types of offering—multi-generational audiences are utilizing digital offerings, and brands may be missing out on a chance to capitalize on that demographic”.

Analysts note that Western Union’s continuous adoption of technology has helped it gain positive consumer response.

Find out more about the developments in the remittance industry here.

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