The Western Union Co., which has been expanding its digital footprint for several years, announced a major move on Wednesday into Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.
Online and mobile money transfers will start over the next few weeks in Malaysia and Singapore, the company said, with service already having been established in Hong Kong. Mexico is “set” to go live soon, Western Union says, following Brazil, Jamaica, and Panama. In the Middle East, meanwhile, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman are live, with the United Arab Emirate scheduled to follow.
Western Union’s digital service, 70% of which consists of transactions originating from mobile devices, has already been established in North America and in “major parts” of Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, the company says. Plans call for expansion to more than 200 countries and territories within a few years. Already, the service can send money to “billions” of accounts and mobile wallets, the Englewood, Colo.-based money-transfer giant says.
“No one moves money farther with multiple channel choice,” claimed Hikmet Ersek, president and chief executive of Western Union, in a statement.
The company’s digital expansion into more countries comes as activity and competition in cross-border money movement is heating up and, in some cases, has involved established mobile-payments players as well as new technology such as blockchain.
In June, for example, the major Chinese mobile-payments service Alipay said it had launched a remittance service between Hong Kong and the Philippines using a blockchain backbone. And earlier this month the cryptocurrency provider Ripple announced it had signed on three exchanges to support its xRapid cross-border payments product, which uses Ripple’s XRP digital currency.