Western Union says it has expanded its network of concept stores in Europe.
The cross-border money transfer provider announced Wednesday (Dec. 6) that it now has 100 concept stores and “company-owned hubs” across the continent, with plans to “significantly” expand that number through 2025.
“The network represents an investment by Western Union in its retail presence in Europe, while supporting local micro-entrepreneurs and financial inclusion in migrant communities,” the company said in a news release. “It covers 13 European markets to date, including Spain, Italy, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and others.”
These stores, per the release, let customers make international money transfers but also benefit from “premium brand experience and level of service.”
“This relationship represents a tangible investment in micro-entrepreneurship, as well as financial inclusion, allowing these retail entrepreneurs to have a new, elevated role in their communities, usually comprised of migrants, and expand their business,” the company said.
Western Union opened its first concept store in Jordan in September, designed to let foreign-born workers in that country send money home.
The announcement comes two months after Western Union released earnings showing the company’s global retail business had reached a turning point, achieving year-over-year growth after showing declines in past years.
“The company’s focus is on improving customer and agent experiences, expanding its controlled distribution strategy, and implementing dynamic pricing strategies,” PYMNTS wrote at the time.
Elsewhere in the cross-border payments space, payments industry experts say they are focused on taking the friction out of this method in 2024.
As noted here earlier this week, one of 2023’s key themes is that business customers have come to expect the same seamless and technology-driven experience they receive as consumers when making B2B payments.
PYMNTS Intelligence has found that just 23% of smaller businesses say their cross-border payment solutions are “very or extremely satisfactory.”
“What we hear from banks and the needs of their corporate and small business customers are frictions around complexity of setting up bank accounts in every international market they operate in,” Paul Chang, head of payment networks at Amazon Web Services (AWS) said in an interview with PYMNTS.
“We are seeing the demand for virtual accounts, to set up faster and be able to accept in the local currencies. In addition, businesses are looking for integrations to tie those accounts and payments to their ERP [enterprise resource planning] and accounting systems.”