Western Union; Emerging Markets and Digital PaymentsBy: Shawn Hess - March 30, 2012
Most of us are familiar with Western Union, lord knows they advertise enough. Well they recently launched a new digital payment service called WU Pay. WU Pay allows online consumers to pay two ways.
Once you receive an online billing statement you can either transfer funds from your bank account, or physically go to a Western Union pay station and handle the charges that way. No extra fees involved in this cash transaction, nor do you need to provide any of your personal information. Sounds Safe, right?
As part of their new payment platform, they have partnered with MTN, a prominent mobile provider in Africa. Using MTN as a provider, customers of the mobile service now have access to Western Union’s online payment options . It is Western Unions first dive into the African market.
Here’s what the partnership promises customers:
* Receive money from nearly 100,000 Western Union Agent locations in 57 countries
* Send funds directly from their mobile phones for payout at one of more than 400,000 Western Union Agent locations in 200 countries and territories
* Send funds from their mobile phones to a subscriber of a mobile operator with whom Western Union has launched the MMT service (i.e. Smart, Globe, Maxis, EnStream, M-PESA)
It seems like Western Union is finding unique ways to stay relevant in todays electronic consumer society and break into emerging markets at the same time. It sounds like a great idea to me. My thinking is this makes it a lot easier for more established nations to complete transactions with groups in Africa. Western Union is a trusted name and adds the the elements of safety and security to transactions.
We can expect to see more partnerships of this variety as emerging markets attempt to gain a presence in established channels of business. Secure money transfer and information privacy is everyone’s main concern when purchasing. This service can do a lot to help merchants and service providers get established in developing markets.
Diane Scott, Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer and President at Western Union Ventures comments on their new services:
“Western Union is changing quickly and we are leading the way in bringing international remittances to mobile subscribers around the globe,”
“Our network of nearly half a million locations, our experience in moving money across borders, and our relationships with the world’s most successful mobile operators such as MTN, ideally position us to introduce many people to cross-border financial services.”
“Our mobile money transfer service will unlock new economic opportunities for thousands of underserved consumers in Uganda, whose financial needs are not being met elsewhere,”
“By deploying these powerful tools for sending and receiving funds – particularly in areas lacking financial infrastructure – Western Union and MTN are helping to create more self-sufficient local economies.”
Christian de Faria, MTN’s Group Chief Commercial Officer also commented on the partnership:
“MTN Mobile Money has seen great success in Uganda,”
“We currently have more than 2 million Mobile Money customers, and we continue to grow exponentially. By joining forces with Western Union, our customers can now receive funds directly in their MTN Mobile Money accounts quickly and easily. MTN looks forward to expanding this offering in new countries with Western Union.”