By Jacqueline Molnar
Looking back on this year, the payments industry saw an increased focus on necessary compliance and customer service functions in FinTech. Innovations in digital payments have brought in exciting opportunities for the industry – both with incumbents and startups. While entrepreneurship is always a risky endeavor, legacy companies and new entrants are challenged to remain competitive and grow market share while respecting industry standards and international financial regulations. As Chief Compliance Officer at Western Union, this is something I oversee daily across more than 200 countries and territories in more than 130 currencies.
At 166 years old, Western Union has experienced many business, society and industry shifts. Starting with the first transcontinental telegraph line in 1861, creating the first consumer charge card in 1914 and launching the first U.S. domestic communications satellite in 1974, we’ve always adapted our business to be where our customers need us and created the technology of the time. This still holds true today as we embrace the FinTech and digital payments revolution – and it’s my responsibility and passion to make sure our compliance and regulation standards are industry-leading.
As discussed at Money 2020, this standard of compliance is often challenging. It is crucial to consider compliance in all product and business developments from inception. Compliance provides insights into how to solve problems in different markets and options that may not have been previously considered. For example, to automate the electronic verification process in the UK, we suggested a system that performs required controls such as ID verification, payment authentication and PEP screening in real-time. In other countries, we leverage information captured and verified at retail points of sale by establishing a connection with the digital platform and having retail customers use digital channels.
Moving money across the world in a matter of minutes may seem simple, but what we really do to make this possible is rather complex. With the shift from physical money transfer to digital payments, there are very real risks of compliance issues. Having compliance fully integrated into the product roadmap can mitigate a number of these risks.
Our business and company are always evolving, expanding and improving core capabilities and developing new cross-border payments opportunities. Because of this, Western Union incorporates core compliance capabilities into our business strategy as we understand its importance to best serve our consumers.