Some residents of France who use Western Union online services to wire money to friends and family in certain African countries will be offered free one-month, 1,000-euro life and disability policies benefiting those recipients under a pilot program, according to a press release.
The Transfer Protect service offered by Western Union and French insurer AXA includes numerous features aimed at benefitting immigrant workers who send remittances to family members and friends in their origin countries. Life insurance and disability policies would provide funds should the expatriate workers die or lose the ability to work.
Khalid Fellahi, president of Consumer Money Transfer at Western Union, told PYMNTS that selling insurance and potentially other products alongside money transfer services should help differentiate the company from competitors.
He said Western Union has built the capacity to add products into its technology "ecosystem."
France emerged from a list of potential countries for the trial because AXA is based there and because of the volume of the remittance transactions sent from the country. And for money transfer, he added, "it's a very strategic market."
France ranked eighth in the world in remittance outflow in 2018, with workers there sending $15 billion to recipients in their home countries, according to the World Bank. Among European countries, only Germany reported a higher outflow.
The World Bank estimates global personal remittance traffic was $715 billion in 2019.
Fellahi said Western Union is testing the insurance product with a small number of participating countries before scaling it for broader use.
AXA CEO Thomas Buberl said in the release that his company "is committed to scaling inclusive insurance through a business with a social impact approach. We are excited by the prospect of leveraging Western Union's extensive network and trusted brand to reach its global customer base, thereby bringing accessible, relevant, and affordable protection to those who need it the most."
The African countries selected for the pilot are Senegal, Morocco, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Cameroon, Mali, Benin, Togo, Congo and Guinea.