Western Union Lets Mexican Consumers Receive Funds Via Chatbot

Western Union and Elektra say users in Mexico can now receive money via chatbot. 

The offering, the latest in a series of efforts by Western Union to expand its business in Mexico, lets users with an active account at Banco Azteca collect the money sent to them from the U.S., the companies said in a news release Tuesday (Sept. 12).

“In addition to our extensive network of retail stores, we continue to invest in technology to give customers the option to send money when and where they want to,” said Claudia Reyes Armebianchi, Western Union’s general manager for Mexico.

“In a country where 87.9% of the population has an active WhatsApp account, being able to send money transfers through mobile phones not only accelerates speed but offers convenience and financial inclusion to our customers.”

Western Union has partnered with Elektra, a financial services company, for 30 years. In this latest partnership, customers can receive money by installing the Banco Azteca App and sending a message via chatbot from the phone number associated with the Banco Azteca account the funds will be deposited.

From there, users can save the chatbot as “My money transfer” in their contacts, go to WhatsApp and type “Hello” to begin the conversation, type in the transaction number and confirm the amount.

“Upon completion, the money is deposited into the beneficiaries’ Banco Azteca account, and receipts are shared via chatbot and email,” the news release said.

The partnership is happening as artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbots’ use in finance continues to evolve. While these tools have long been used for customer service, they’ve often left customers frustrated and wanting to speak with a human.

But the latest crop of AI innovations could transform chatbot capabilities from single-point engagements to more dynamic and effective communications/support platforms while reducing the need to keep call centers staffed around the clock.

“This didn’t happen overnight,” Amir Wain, CEO and Chairman at i2c, told PYMNTS earlier this month in a report on the commercialization of AI.

 “There’s been a lot of work going on in AI, and now the product is at a stage where it can be deployed commercially across various applications.”

AI has also integrated itself into customer service in other ways, with businesses using it for things like how to figure out how long to leave customers on hold.

This year has seen Western Union launch a number of other efforts in Mexico. In March, the company teamed with 7-Eleven Mexico to allow customers to send and receive funds from more than 1,800 Mexican 7-Eleven stores to the more than 200 countries where Western Union does business.

And in June, nonprofit private assistance institution Fundacíon Dondé began offering Western Union remittance services at 332 branch offices across Mexico.