Consumer Finance

Western Union’s One Billionth Bank Account Milestone

Western Union (WU) now connects its customers to over 1 billion bank accounts across the world, the company announced.

“The additional ability to pay out in over 1 billion bank accounts gives consumers unparalleled choice when sending money through Western Union,” said Western Union President and CEO Hikmet Ersek in a statement.

The FinTech company, which is known for its remittance services, sees a good chunk of its business come from immigrants working abroad. Last year, the company announced that it was seeing as much as 60 percent of its business originate from remittances, with a high number of Indian and Chinese immigrants in the U.S. sending money to their home countries.

The company’s growth underpins an extensive network of over 500,000 agent locations in 200 countries, more than 100,000 ATMs and kiosks and an online presence in 33 countries.

“The account payout network capability represents a natural evolution in Western Union’s cross-border platform and omnichannel strategy to reach new, digital-savvy, banked and mobile-enabled consumers. Western Union is actively pursuing digital innovation enterprise-wide, increasing consumers’ choice of money transfer channels and facilitating financial inclusion in emerging countries around the world,” Ersek added.

To fortify its growing network, the company said, it has built a sturdy regulatory, compliance and anti-money laundering infrastructure, which utilizes Big Data Hadoop technologies to power fast and efficient functioning of money transfer across the globe.

While Western Union has, so far, been a juggernaut in the field, it is beginning to see tidal growth of FinTech startups entering the remittance business denting its position. However, with its 165-year history, the company has managed to build an unmatched infrastructure of physical locations and kiosks, which makes it difficult for startups to steal business from.

So, even though FinTech startups find themselves at an advantage in the U.S. and European countries with a vast mobile network supporting their growth, it is tough for them to enter into markets like Africa and India, where WU has an extensive network of agent locations and kiosks supporting the needs of a consumer base which relies less on mobile technology for banking purposes.

“It’s easy to send money from New York to San Francisco, but it’s not easy to send money from New York to Sri Lanka. Facebook and Google and others struggle with that,” Ersek said earlier last year. “We have a money laundering database, and we check every transaction against any crime activities. Our system double-checks everything.”



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