Business union

Arguably the most innovative digital retailer of our era, Amazon earlier this year had a challenge. It wanted to expand its reach and sell goods across Latin America, Africa and Asia where consumers preferred to pay in cash. The obstacle for the global internet giant was how to take payments from people who purchase goods and services exclusively with cash.

The solution was important for Amazon’s service offering to these customers, but also for the underbanked and cash-centric customers who want access to the vast selection of goods that are often only available online.

So Amazon turned to a company with unique expertise in moving money through digital or cash channels: Western Union. Now customers in a growing number of countries can buy online at Amazon and pay cash at a Western Union agent location.

Digitalisation of services is swiftly revolutionising customer expectations. Now, whether you are a farmer in Peru or a software developer in Taiwan, people and companies expect their payments, no matter how small, to move seamlessly to any person or company.

The company is facilitating a money-transfer superhighway for the global marketplace through customised alliances of all kinds

Online payments make moving money nearly anywhere in the world technically possible, but there are other factors that can complicate the transfer of money across borders, including international compliance regulations, volatile currency exchange and the difficulty of cross-border currency transfer across the globe.

Western Union, once known primarily for its ubiquitous global retail footprint, is becoming a digital-services-first company. It continues to accelerate digital access across the globe for its consumer-to-consumer business and has digital offerings in more than 60 countries and territories, with plans to expand.

The company is pairing its growing digital network with its physical, account and wallet payout network to move money fluidly from digital to cash, digital to digital, cash to digital and cash to cash.

Leveraging its omnichannel platform in new ways is part of a bold strategic expansion by Western Union. Digital services have driven Western Union’s internal growth and can now also help drive the growth of other organisations.

At its core Western Union is a sophisticated money-moving engine with a robust digital footprint, settlement engine, treasury and compliance infrastructure, anti-money laundering, fraud detection, and a vast physical network across 200 countries and territories, along with the ability to send money to billions of bank accounts and wallets in more than 100 countries.

Opening its platform is part of a bold strategic expansion for Western Union. The company is facilitating a money-transfer superhighway for the global marketplace through customised alliances of all kinds. These alliances help move money and are driving customer engagement in a truly global way, either through a co-branded end-to-end solution or by allowing partners to utilise just a single part of its payout network capability.

“Companies with global ambitions intuitively get the power of our network,” says Odilon Almeida, president of Western Union Global Money Transfer. “They can leverage a network that took us many years to build and expand their businesses overnight. It gives them instant access to our world-class digital capabilities, our unrivalled physical network, and rapidly expanding account and wallet payout network.”

Through its M-PESA mobile wallet, Kenya’s leading mobile network operator Safaricom was able to do something generations of financial institutions failed to do by bringing financial services to millions of Kenyans who had never had bank accounts. Recently, under Western Union’s payout services offering, Safaricom’s 23 million largely unbanked M-PESA mobile wallet users are now equipped with the ability to transfer money globally from their wallets.

“The ideal prospects for us already have digital in their DNA and understand the extraordinary value that comes from constant innovation,” says Mr Almeida. “Our goal is to cultivate relationships where the two companies work collaboratively to reach broader groups together.

“We go from global to local and they go from local to global. Everyone is connected. Everyone grows. Everyone wins.”

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