The saying goes, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” That may or may not be accurate, but at least one “old dog” is .
Western Union has been operating in cross-border payments for nearly 150 years (yes, you read that suitably – 150 years). It serves almost 150 million customers globally – representing senders and receivers.
Several fintech space – from Wise (formerly TransferWise) to Remitly to WorldRemit. But the payments giant seems up for the to beat fintechs at their own game.
As we all know, the Money transfer was no exception. In 2020, Western Union benefited from that acceleration. Its overall – climbed by 38% to over $850 million, up from over $600 million in 2019. of all things moving to digital in nearly all industries.
WU.com, the company’s online transactions site, saw a nearly 30% gain in annual active customers to 8.6 million.
, the company recently projected that its digital money transfer revenues would exceed $1 billion in 2021 after first-quarter revenue growth of 45% to a new quarterly high of $242 million.
Today, Western Union claims to hold the largest cross-border, digital, peer-to-peer payments network in scale, revenue, and channels.
According to the company, the emphasis on beefing up its digital operations – an initiative that began in the second half of 2019, and expanding those digital offerings to more countries led to Western Union’s overall business profile shifting over the past 15 months.
Digital channels in 2020 comprised 29% of transactions and 20% of revenue for the company’s consumer-to-consumer (C2C) business, up from 16% and 14%, respectively, in 2019.
Western Union also “open-sourced” its platform to third-party institutions in a move it says is a “step towards creating an end-to-end payments processing hub.”
TechCrunch talked with Shelly Swanback, Western Union’s president of product and platform, about its digital strategy and beyond payments for the company (hint: it involves banking products). This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
TC: Let’s start by hearing how theimpacted your business and what steps you took as a company to adapt.
Swayback: As started happening?’
One of the isn’t always blockchain or some emerging technology. Sometimes the best innovation is just about innovating with the products and services that you have. we learned from that experience is this notion of everyday innovation. Innovation
For example, we had some places in the world where we needed to figure out how to do home delivery of cash. Delivering cash is different from delivering pizza, as you can imagine, as there are many regulatory and security items. We quickly figured out how to provide some money in Sri Lanka and Nepal, Jordan, and other places worldwide.
Another example is addressing how some folks were just slightly intimidated by digital technology. I thought, ‘What if we set up a digital video location we called it where people could call in and do a video call with us, and we could help them with their money transfer?’ It turned out that there wasn’t as much customer demand for that as we might have thought.
But the great news — and this is a good lesson, I think, for many organizations — is what we did there regarding KYC (Know Your Customer), which is a industry. So, all the technology we set up for this digital location for customers to upload their documents electronically and not have to be in front of an agent we’re using today, just in a different .
TC: Western Union has touted the fact that it has such a strong physical presence in so many locations, benefits the operations, and an expansion into other offerings beyond payments. Can you elaborate on that?
Swayback: The success and acceleration that we’re having in our digital business and, of course, the quarterly results are great, and we want to continue to do that. But for me, what’s most exciting is just the solid foundation. The basis allows us to toward this idea of having a more meaningful account-based relationship with our customers and the ability to offer them more than just money transfers.
We have the fortune of having a known globally and charged for something near and dear to our customers. We’re hearing from our customers that they trust us to provide additional services. So one of the things that we’re beginning to put plans in place for, and beginning to do some market tests on, is building an ecosystem or a marketplace, if you will. It will all be catered and connect them, connecting them to their families and connecting them to merchants who want to sell them goods or provide services that are very culturally relevant to them, either where they happen to be living and working or providing them services back home to their families.
Later in the fall, we will launch our first market providing a more comprehensive set of services.. We will be offering a bank account, debit card, and multi-currency accounts tied, of course, into our money transfer services and a few other things as we get closer to the market launch. But this is our first test around