Our response to COVID-19

COVID-19 By Joy Miller April 20, 2020

At Western Union, we believe that we are more successful as a company when we operate according to the highest ethical standards, address unmet social needs and promote the well-being of our stakeholders. This is more critical than ever during a situation like the one we face with COVID-19, which has widespread health and financial impacts on our customers, Agents, employees and communities across the globe.

With the ongoing spread of COVID-19 and the speed at which things are changing around us, we remain committed to doing everything we can to support the health of our employees and Agents, ensure that we can meet our customers’ need to send money for critical support to loved ones, and support communities impacted by the spread of the virus globally.

Our areas of focus include:

Our Employees

Our Customers

Our Agents and Front Line Associates

Our Business Clients

Our Global Community

Our Employees Banner

We are prioritizing the health and financial security of our employees, including those employees who work for hourly wages.

Work from home We have enabled a majority of our more than 11k employees and contractors across 55 countries to work from home.
Communication & COVID-19 employee resource center We have developed an employee COVID-19 Update Center on our intranet. Our executives provide regular updates to employees via videos, calls and office hours.
 

Employee benefits

Compensation: We have continued to pay regular salary and wages to employees who cannot work during temporary business closures.

Emotional and psychological support: We expanded the reach of our Employee Assistance Programs – which provide no-cost emotional and psychological support – to all Western Union employees and family members globally. 

Sick and family leave: We continue to offer paid sick and family leave to all employees. We have also provided employees with an additional two weeks (10 business days) of COVID-19 leave, which can be used if employees are quarantined and unable to work, if they contract the virus, or if they need to care for a family member as a result of COVID-19.

Telehealth: We have enabled employees in the U.S. and India to access telehealth doctor visits, providing medical support while social distancing.

Health insurance: We are providing enhanced health insurance services in Italy during COVID-19 (recovery allowance, post-hospitalization assistance, etc.)

Emergency back-up and childcare: We continue to offer subsidized emergency backup child and adult care for U.S. employees, a benefit made more critical with schools out and elder care facilities closed.

 

Our Customers Banner

As a purpose-driven global company, we are focused on ensuring that our services are reliable and accessible to a broad spectrum of consumers. This means serving not only the digitally enabled, but also communities and individuals who are not online.

Digital services Western Union is one of the world’s largest digital remittances companies. To support social distancing, shelter-in-place and restricted movement guidelines as a result of COVID-19, Western Union digital money transfer services continue to be available in over 75 countries. They can be paid out into a global network of four billion accounts and wallets in over 100 countries.

Digital/electronic customer ID verification: Many first-time users of Western Union’s online money transfer services are required to validate personal details in a face-to-face environment pursuant to existing local market regulations. Given the challenges that COVID-19 poses to any face-to-face interactions, we are working with our Agents to identify electronic options to meet ‘know your customer’ requirements.

Refunds Offering a full refund of the transaction including fees when payout services are impacted, as an exception during the current unsettling times.
Agent network locator To keep our customers up to date on open Agent locations and Agent hours, we are updating the company’s Agent network locator three times a day. Customers can access the locator online or by phone.
Dedicated COVID-19 customer resource center Through our online COVID-19 customer resource center, we share updated information about product and service availability, health-related resources, fraud prevention and awareness, and executive messages of support.
Zero fee in core impacted markets We have waived fees over specific periods for westernunion.com digital money transfers for select payout methods in select countries, including the US, UK, Ireland, Spain, France, Kuwait, Belgium, Malaysia and Jordan and Italy.
Discounts for first responders and essential workers As a tribute to the dedication of front-line responders and essential workers, we offered a 50 percent fee reduction for these customers when they send money using the company’s digital channels during a two week window (May 6-20, 2020).
Health and safety guidelines We are providing recommendations  to our employees and Agents around how to adhere to cleaning and hygiene guidance from national and global public health authorities, along with guidance on emerging retail practices designed to assist social distancing and protect vulnerable populations, such as “senior hours”.
Product/service innovation Given temporary Agent closures and restrictions on customer movement as a result of COVID-19, we have piloted several initiatives to ensure that customers who are unaccustomed or unable to use digital transfers can still send and receive money. These include home delivery of cash money transfers in select markets, and “digital locations,” which offer personalized phone or video support to help customers make digital money transfers from the comfort and safety of home.
 Customer protection In a climate of increased fraud globally, we are alerting consumers to scams and reminding Agents and customers to call the Western Union Fraud Hotline or their dedicated Agent support number if they suspect fraud.

 

Agents and FLA Banner

With the ongoing spread of COVID-19 and the speed at which things are changing around us, we are continually adapting our operations and business to best support our Agents and the front line associates (FLAs) that operate our more than 550,000 locations across more than 200 countries and territories.

Supporting best practices to keep customers safe We are providing regular communications to Agents and front line associates globally, including health and safety guidance and emerging retail practices, for example, supporting social distancing via floor markings, implementing “sneeze guards” and “senior hours”.
Hotline support We continue to provide hotline support in more than 40 languages to customers and Agents.

 

Business Clients Banner

We are working closer than ever with businesses who use our ecosystem to send, receive and manage international payments.

Market outlook webinars We have hosted market outlook webinars run by Western Union Business Solutions analysts and supported by our partner Oxford Economics.
Client newsletters and content hubs We have provided our business clients with a series of regional updates that offer guidance to help businesses navigate COVID-19.
Currency Market Analysis We continue to publish currency outlook reports daily and monthly.

Paycheck Protection Program Loans for Agents and Business Customers

We are one of a few non-bank approved lenders providing access to small business loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program. The company is accepting loan applications online and provide financial assistance to eligible Western Union Agents and Western Union Business Solutions clients in the United States.

 

Global Community Banner

We are contributing funds for communities across the globe that have been impacted by COVID-19, and we continue to support existing Western Union Foundation non-profit partners.

We are also upholding the spirit of transparency of all current and expanded service offerings and indications of impact as a result of some in-country closures.

Global matching challenge In February, Western Union and the Western Union Foundation announced a USD $1M global matching challenge to provide relief to communities affected by COVID-19 around the world through local and global NGOs, including Give2Asia and International Medical Corps. To donate or learn more, click here.
Enabled in-app customer donations Customers in the U.S. have the opportunity to contribute to COVID-19 relief efforts through the Western Union mobile app, a capability that was developed as a result of a company-wide hackathon in 2019 and has raised approximately $40K for NGO partners to date.
Employee donation matching The Western Union Foundation will continue to match eligible donations to non-profits up to $25,000 for U.S. employees.
RECENT ANNOUNCEMENTS
Keeping the market informed of developments Regular updates on Western Union services will be provided via a dedicated COVID-19 resource site and can be found here.
March 20: Western Union Meets Customers’ Needs In Challenging Times View the press release.
March 26: Supporting Loved Ones During Challenging Times: Western Union Launches “Digital Locations” View the press release.
March 27: Western Union Provides Update on Impact from COVID-19 and 2020 Financial Outlook View the press release.
March 31: Western Union Expands Its Digital Services View the press release. 
April 23: Western Union Expands Global Real-Time Payments Network View the press release. 

April 7: Western Union money transfers delivered home in Sri Lanka

View the press release.

April 16: Western Union Money Transfers Now Delivered Home in Jordan

View the press release.

April 21: Western Union Money Transfers Now Delivered Home In Nepal

View the press release.

April 27:  Tony’s Fresh Market and the Western Union Foundation Donate USD $100K to the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund

View the press release. 

April 27: Western Union and the Western Union Foundation Expand Funding for Global COVID-19 Relief

View the press release.

May 13: Western Union Provides Access to Paycheck Protection Program Loans for Agents and Business Customers

View the press release.