Digital transformation & economic opportunities

Enable By Emily Larson May 29, 2018

Western Union International Bank’s CEO Peter Bucher firmly believes you can drive successful, innovative business while creating a better world for the community you live in. He shares his views on digital transformation and economic opportunities for all.

“We have transformed ourselves into one of the largest digital money transfer firms in the world”

Herr Bucher, the money transfer industry has undergone significant change in the past years with new digital players challenging incumbents. How does Western Union stay relevant to customers?

“Western Union is renowned for its unparalleled international network, with over 500,000 agent locations spanning 200 countries and territories. Consumers are less aware that we have transformed ourselves into one of the largest digital money transfer firms in the world, with our digital activity generating well over $400 million revenues in 2017. Today, our omnichannel platform places Western Union in a unique position where our physical network and our digital efforts combine to provide customers with a host of options to transfer money, whether in cash, card into billions of bank accounts, online, using our App or one of our 17 mobile wallet partners. Customers can send and receive money in a fast, reliable and convenient manner.”

Has Western Union gone digital in Austria too?

“We are proud to offer the same omnichannel choice in Austria. Today customers can commence their journey on our mobile App, pay for their transaction digitally or opt to pay cash from any of our participating Western Union retail locations, use or go directly to any of the 1,200 agent locations or Western Union-owned locations in Austria[i]. As the centerpiece of Western Union’s omnichannel vision, the Western Union App is increasingly the primary touchpoint for customers: today more than 65% of Western Union’s digital transactions originate on a mobile device globally. Our App has grown to become one of the industry’s most widely used international money transfer apps and a Top 20 finance app in the App Store.”

Doesn’t digital transformation in financial services favor the more financially literate segments in the population?

“Not at all. An advantage of Western Union’s omnichannel approach is that it includes all customers, whether they are integrated or not in the financial system: the banked, the underbanked, and the unbanked. We position ourselves as creating opportunity for financial inclusion by bridging gaps in the financial services sector. Migrants, who typically are the link between cash economies underserved by financial institutions, and highly bancarized, digital economies, benefit from Western Union’s unique ability to combine the physical and the digital. We serve all customer segments: from digital natives who are never without their smartphones to the 4 billion people on earth the World Bank estimates aren’t online yet.”

Western Union and migrants, a “special relationship”?

“Western Union is strongly committed to migrants and to refugees: migration is at the heart of our business. The Western Union Foundation is actively supporting NGOs that help refugees and migrants around the globe through education and financial literacy. In Austria our employees have put in place numerous initiatives such as German courses and mentoring programs, and we celebrated in March the first anniversary of SEED, a project supported by the Western Union Foundation in collaboration with the Austrian Ministry of Education and Teach for Austria Alumni Association. SEED aims to improve education and employability of students from low socio-economic backgrounds, especially children of refugees, migrants, and local families. In 2017 SEED supported 20 projects, impacting 5,000 children and youth; we hope to support event more in 2018.”

The Western Union Foundation is a separate charitable corporation that is tax-exempt under §501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, contributions to which are tax-deductible for US income tax purposes. The Foundation is supported by the Western Union Company, its employees, Agents, and business partners, working to support education and disaster relief efforts as pathways toward a better future.

Western Union International Bank GmbH is regulated by the Financial Markets Authority in Austria

[i] Agent location count valid as of 31 December 2017