Blog | Western Union

Digital Innovation in the Hands of Those That Need It Most: Migrants and Refugees around the World

By Khalid Fellahi

Today, the measure of digital innovation success lies not in the scale of – and mere access to – digital technology, but in how these tools raise global financial health and, by extension, promote positive social change. The world’s migrants and refugees are one of the largest participant groups in the global economy and, as such, digital innovation has never been more important for their life and wellbeing.

From an economic perspective, the World Bank estimated that migrants transferred $575 billion in remittances last year with $29 billion of that sent to developing countries. Also, Juniper Research reported that international remittances sent by mobile phones will increase to $25 billion by 2018. These substantial figures point to the importance that financial tools hold for these global citizens: they are foundational for their daily lives.

Our goal at Western Union is to develop the scale and capabilities necessary to support this dynamic population of refugees and migrants. This framework is sewn in all of our offerings – from our international digital money moving platforms, like WU.com, the Western Union mobile app and Facebook Messenger money transfer bot, to the our global network of more than 500,000 Agent locations.

With family and friends living around the world, I understand the need to be able to transfer money quickly and conveniently internationally. For me, I need to be able to reach my children at school in the U.S. and Canada, my sister in Belgium and my father in Morocco – for others, lack of access can mean a difference of life and death.

Opening in 2011, the Western Union San Francisco office is our global hub for developing the innovations and services needed to better serve our customers around the world. It facilitated the creation of one of the largest physical and fastest-growing digital networks connecting 200 countries and territories with the ability to exchange money in 130 currencies and the technology backbone that enables us to move money with anywhere within minutes.

As a global citizen, myself, I am proud to support Western Union in promoting a world where multi-culturalism and diversity are the norm and supporting lives across markets through cause-focused innovation and collaboration.