Western Union announces new partnership with BP

Alison Banney 25 July 2017 NEWS

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The new collaboration is one way the global payments provider is digitising its retail offering.

Leading international money transfer provider Western Union has today announced a new partnership with BP. The collaboration will enable Australians to complete transactions from 302 BP locations across the country day or night.

Speaking with finder.com.au, Simon Millard, Country Director Australia at Western Union, said the new BP partnership is one way the company is moving to digitise its existing retail offering.

“A customer in effect stages the transaction on their mobile phone, you could be on the bus or at home, you complete the front end transaction on your phone then you can go in and pay in cash at BP,” said Millard.

Millard acknowledged the retail sector was being challenged by digital advancements and fintech players, but said the Western Union storefronts still very much have their place in the global payments market.

“The retail sector is being challenged across the industry. For us, we are working on helping to digitise our retail experience. We still have a very confident view of the future of retail. We think cash has got a long way to go. There are significant parts of the community that want that retail experience.”

More global partnerships

Millard said, in addition to the new BP collaboration, the global payments giant has a number of strategic partnerships in the making to help better meet the needs of its users.

“From our point of view, fintech is coming from the voice of the customer. So that means finding out what customers want and how do we make their life easier. That includes things like increasing our hours of operation within our retail environment, which is something that our partnership with BP does. We know customers want to send in the evening when they get home from work, BP gives us 24/7 access,” said Millard.

“We’re also investigating how to offer our solution within the digital ecosystems of partners as well. So for example, Australia Post is a big partner of ours and we’re looking at how we might be able to offer our solution within their digital ecosystem.”

Millard said Western Union already has partnerships with popular social platforms Wii Chat and Viber in the US, allowing users to send funds to one another through these messaging apps. The company is soon to launch a remittance bot within Facebook messenger, initially in the US and then to Australia.

“Globally, Western Union just signed a partnership with Facebook in the US to develop a cross-border remittance bot within their messenger service. Facebook has its own domestic bank-to-bank solution within the US, but cross-border remittance has far more complexity, which is something that we can bring there,” he said.

Fintech is an opportunity, not a threat

There have been a number of digital players entering the market in recent years, all competing for a share of the global $575 billion remittance pie.

Digital cross-border payments company InstaReM has grown eight times in volume since March 2016, and earlier this month secured US$13 million in funding to expand into Europe and US markets. In June, online remittance provider WorldRemit launched Android Pay, making it the only money transfer service to enable payments through the digital wallet.

Millard believes fintech players are more of an opportunity than a threat and is confident Western Union will keep its leading position in the market. Rather than trying to compete with these new fintech solutions, the company is focusing on meeting the needs of consumers.

“Competition is fantastic and it keeps us innovating, keeps us forward thinking. To be able to mirror what Western Union does is incredibly difficult and complex. We’re in 200 different countries, which means we have over 200 sets of regulations that we have to abide by.”

Not everything that’s launched works. As a country, we’ve launched a lot of apps and things which have sounded interesting, but whether consumers will actually use it or not is another question. We don’t necessarily think we need to be innovative for innovation's sake, we want to find solutions that people want and will use.”

Picture: Shutterstock

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