What is a border really worth in a world of digital payments? If Western Union’s recent focus on online money transfers in Europe is any indication, geopolitical boundaries in the region are a far cry from the Iron Curtain.
Western Union has proven that with its most recent announcement of the opening of transactional sites in Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Slovenia. Though none of these countries individually might seem like a windfall for the global payments processor, the four nations bring Western Union’s network up to 33 countries with dedicated sites that can serve customers under a total of 200 flags.
“Western Union continues to expand its online transactional network worldwide,” Khalid Fellahi, senior vice president and general manager at Western Union, said in a statement. “From this foundation, we believe we are very competitive, offering a strong value proposition and a global scale.”
The announcement marks the end of a busy 2015 for Western Union outside of the U.S. Last week, the company launched an app for French users, allowing them to seamlessly send funds through their mobile devices. Excluding the four new Eastern European transactional sites, Western Union established five others during the year. The company has also devoted significant resources to expanding its physical footprint in Europe, with self-service kiosks in the U.K. through a partnership with WHSmith and card- and ATM-based receive services through MasterCard in Romania.
Not content to fade quietly into 2016, Western Union has more plans in the works that may or may not wrap up by the new year. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the global payments processor is in talks to acquire two Australian transactional marketplaces, OzForex and Veda. If the sales go through, Western Union may find itself in an enviable position when customers begin turning to online payments en masse in 2016 and beyond.