At Western Union, we work passionately every day to find new ways to serve our customers and bring innovative solutions to age-old problems. We provide a wide range of money transfer and payment solutions to a broad spectrum of consumers. We pair innovation in our fast-growing digital network with our global retail presence to offer customers various options to meet their needs. This omnichannel approach enables us to serve underserved customers and communities.
To drive global financial inclusion, we strive to deliver for our customers on their needs today and into the future. We endeavor to use our products and services, global network, and partnerships to drive prosperity and resilience for individuals, businesses, and organizations— creating the long-term foundations for economic success.
Through an inclusive approach, we are able to reach and serve a broad range of consumers, including those in rural or remote communities with limited digital infrastructure. Our ability to transact in cash through our retail network means we can also provide critical services to the estimated 1.7 billion adults worldwide who, by choice or circumstance, are unbanked.1
Digital capabilities and partnerships are helping us connect more people to our services. Westernunion.com is now available in over 75 countries and the Western Union app is active in over 55 countries. In 2021, we served more than 9 million digital customers with branded products. Approximately 30% started their relationship with Western Union at a retail location and roughly 15% of them conducted at least one of their transactions at a retail location last year.
We are often one of the few financial service providers in countries experiencing war, civil unrest, or political instability. We continue to provide services to customers in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Ukraine to help them navigate protracted periods of conflict and war. With the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 and the subsequent takeover by the Taliban, our services, specifically remittances which are important to the Afghan people and to the national economy, were a critical lifeline for many in Afghanistan.
Also, in 2021, we piloted a multi-currency wallet and digital bank account, and went live in our first two European markets, Germany and Romania—giving consumers who have relocated across borders access to a variety of financial needs in one app. We are enhancing the connections we provide for our customers through real-time payments2, which are viewed as a key enabler of economic progress and financial inclusion for the underbanked.3
Our customers can send funds in real time to billions of bank accounts, including millions of wallets and cards in over 100 countries.
Championing Opportunities Beyond Borders
Grounded in the belief that empowering displaced and vulnerable communities with the skills and training needed for better jobs leads to higher economic growth for all, the Western Union Foundation launched Opportunity Beyond Borders: a $15 million, 3-year commitment to nonprofits spanning five continents. By the end of 2021, the initiative had supported more than 35 countries and territories and funded more than 70 NGOs globally.
In addition, in 2021, the Foundation enabled 11,000 people to participate in skill-building workshops to double their earning potential and awarded scholarships to students from 22 countries studying at 29 universities.
Working with nonprofit partners around the world, in 2021 the Foundation helped people struggling with numerous crises related to natural disasters, famine, and war, including supporting care provided for Afghanistan evacuees arriving at U.S. military bases. In 2021, in total, the Foundation responded to 10 crises, including COVID-19 relief, provided crisis support to more than 1 million people, and invested $2.5 million in crisis response.
Supporting Migrants and Refugees
With the Western Union Foundation, we have a long history of supporting issues related to migrants and refugees, who are an important part of our customer base, workforce, and communities. We engage on key issues related to migrants and refugees with a number of leading organizations, and we have worked with the Fletcher School at Tufts University in the U.S. to explore where economic opportunity, skills shortages, and a sociopolitical openness to migration will intersect and create the next geographies of social stability, economic growth, and innovation.
In 2021, the Foundation invested in research to examine the barriers migrants face in accessing local labor markets with the goal of putting these findings into action and to inform new programming. Through partnership, we will support migrants as they seek to integrate into host communities.
Making Progress Every Day
As our business works to connect people and communities every day, all day, across the world, we’re continuously seeking and learning new and different ways to improve the customer experience. We believe every day presents opportunity for greater progress.
Read more about our progress related to driving economic prosperity in our Western Union 2021 Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Report.