March 28, 2012
The Western Union Co. took a decisive step into digital payments and online shopping with the launch last week of the WU Pay platform.
The platform allows shoppers in the U.S. to pay for online purchases from their existing bank accounts or in cash at Western Union agent locations. Customers using Western Union.com to make money transfers also can use WU pay. Western Union has 44,000 agent locations in the U.S.
WU Pay is based on the eBillme online-payment service, which Western Union acquired in October.
The new payment platform will leverage Western Union’s core customer base—underbanked consumers who use Western Union to pay bills or to send money somewhere in the world, says Marwan Forzley, eBillme founder and general manager and vice president of WU Pay. “This is giving them the option to shop online or do things online and pay at the (Western Union) locations they’re used to,” he says. In addition, WU Pay will introduce eBillme’s existing online-payment customers who use WU Pay for payments to other services offered by the Western Union franchise, Forzley says.
WU Pay is part of ongoing changes to improve Western Union’s core money- moving capabilities, combining the strengths of the agent network and Western Union’s Web site, WesternUnion.com, with the eBillme platform, company officials say.
WU Pay incorporates the basic features of eBillme. Customers who use WU Pay aren’t required to share any account, credit card, or other financial information to do a transaction. An online shopper selects the eBillme option at checkout and is directed to her bank’s Web site for authentication and transaction approval. Payment comes to WU Pay, which guarantees the funds and forwards them to the merchant. The procedure is the same for customers using WU Pay on WesternUnion.com to make money transfers.
However, the new platform expands consumers’ options for paying the bill. They can pay the same way they pay utilities, loans, insurance, and other bills through their online-bank accounts, as under the original eBillme program, or pay cash at one of the Western Union locations in the U.S. That means consumers who don’t have online-banking accounts will be able to use the service by paying at a Western Union location, Forzley says.
“You have the online banking, which is all electronic, and you have the walk-in piece, which is leveraging the Western Union agent network,” he says.
Customers can use WU Pay at any financial institution that offers online bill payment as a payment method.
Merchants accepting payments from WU Pay’s online-banking payment option will pay between 1% and 2% of the transaction, while customers who pay cash at a Western Union locations will be charged a service fee ranging from $2.95 o $6.95, depending on the amount of the transaction, Forzley says.
SPECIAL FEATURERead Digital Transactions Online