Western Union: Our quest to build the world’s best money-moving network

Regional News By Jean Claude Farah October 16, 2019

By Jean Claude Farah, President, Western Union Global Network 

At Western Union, our mission is threefold: to expand into the world’s ultimate agnostic network for cross-border money movement and payments; harness the power of physical and digital touchpoints, and open the network to serve third parties to drive growth. We are well on our way to meeting these goals. And the benefits for all our stakeholders—customers, partners and shareholders—are quickly coming into focus.

In the past, we served only one customer use case: Person to Person (P2P), brick-and-mortar agent location to brick-and-mortar agent location. Those days are long gone. While we still serve people at those brick-and-mortar locations—more than 550,000 in more than 200 countries and territories—we have combined that world-spanning physical presence with a digital one, offering web and app service to pay-in in more than 70 countries, and account payout to billions of bank accounts and digital wallets in more than 100 countries. We are one of the world’s largest combined physical and digital money movers.

Our goal is to serve all customer money movement needs, across all use cases: cash-in to cash-out; from one bank account to another; from a credit card to a digital wallet or any combination in between. Combine that with our unparalleled expertise at working across local cultural, national, and regulatory borders, and it’s easy to see that what Western Union has already built would be very difficult to replicate.

But we just got started: By 2022, we expect to access bank accounts and wallets in 160 countries and offer real-time transfers in 120 countries. This capability will cover 98+ percent of global principal movement across the consumer, consumer-to-business and business-to-consumer sectors.

Even as we expand our capabilities to send to bank accounts, our physical agent network will remain significant – Western Union is proud of our unrivaled retail network, which covers urban, rural, and remote areas of the globe with an agent network representing nationally and internationally iconic brands. Some that started as our retail agents are now becoming part of our digital offering expansion. More than 51 percent of our network is comprised of banks and financial institutions; 16 percent by post offices; and 33 percent by major supermarkets, or smaller convenience stores and retailers.

And now, the scale and speed of our network is no longer offered only to Western Union customers. Our transformation as a company has already led us to begin opening our platform and network to third parties, empowering cross-border money movement for their own customers. Among the leading-edge companies using our network already are Amazon in the e-commerce space, Russia’s Sberbank in the financial arena, and Saudi Telecom’s STC Pay in telecommunications sector.

We’ve coined the term “CCQ”—Cost, Coverage, and Quality– to guide the strategic transformation of our network. Those benefits don’t just extend to our Consumer Money Transfer customers, but to new partners using our network as well as, ultimately, to our shareholders.

Cost efficiency will be a continued focus to benefit all parties connected to our network. At the same time, our coverage is ready to grow as we “fill in the gaps” remaining in our physical and digital footprint and expand into new business arenas with new partners and “white-label” relationships. And we will continue to focus on the agent experience, making it easier for agents to become part of our network and expanding initiatives to drive quality experiences for all.  For example, today our feature allowing a customer to start a transaction on our app, then complete it in person at an agent location, has been rolled out in more than 80 countries. This is a win for our Agents in terms of time, as well as a win for customers who appreciate having self-service control. This and other capabilities continue to build on the tremendous connection we have built with our customers.

For 168 years, Western Union has created value for customers and shareholders by blending in-person with technology-based services, transforming ourselves again and again as times and customer needs have changed. Our latest transformation—the latest step on our journey—promises to be our most exciting yet.

Learn more about Western Union’s 2019 Investor Day.