Western Union Expands Cross-Border Real-Time Money Transfers

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Money transfer firm Western Union has further expanded its global network for real-time payments and transfers to 50 additional countries when paid into certain banks and digital wallets.

Hikmet Ersek, president and CEO of Western Union, said the company has been stepping up the expansion of its digital money transfer capabilities, which is especially important “given the critical nature of money movement” during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Western Union is continuing to execute on its strategy by investing in and growing our global network to empower businesses and consumers to move money or make payments how they choose, to where they choose, as quickly as possible,” Ersek said in a statement on Thursday (April 23). “The COVID-19 crisis has strengthened our commitment to be a reliable partner for people and enterprises to move funds globally in real-time.”

Western Union’s expansion of digital money transfers and payments is especially critical as people across the globe send money to family and pay bills during the coronavirus pandemic. The new expansion enables more people to make money transfers safely from home. 

The company’s digital money transfer service represented the biggest growth segment of its business last year. In March, Western Union expanded to more than 75 countries. Western Union’s digital services are available in the top 20 primary remittance-sending countries ranked by the World Bank. The company has 550,000-plus agent locations across 200 countries and territories.

“Our unique platform cuts through international complexities so customers can access their funds in real-time in more and more places,” Ersek said. “As we expand from our roots in consumer remittances, we’re positioning ourselves as the platform of choice for next-generation payments businesses and financial institutions and their diverse cross-border payments needs.”

Western Union’s consumer-to-consumer money in-minutes cross-border payments capability is now active when sending to select banks or digital wallet providers in 50 countries: Austria, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, China, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Denmark, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Italy, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Mexico, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Portugal, Rwanda, Senegal, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The market for cross-border payments has become a more crowded place, with a host of FinTech emergent players and banking and card incumbents. Ersek discussed these issues and more in last month’s PYMNTS Masterclass conversation.



The pressure on banks to modernize their payments capabilities to support initiatives such as ISO 20022 and instant/real time payments has been exacerbated by the emergence of COVID-19 and the compelling need to quickly scale operations due to the rapid growth of contactless payments, and subsequent increase in digitization. Given this new normal, the need for agility and optimization across the payments processing value chain is imperative.