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Western Union statistics and research

Find out history and facts about one of the world's oldest financial companies.

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Western Union

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About Western Union

Western Union is one of the world’s oldest financial services companies. Starting as a telecommunications company in the United States, the company then known as the New York and Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company held a monopoly on the booming telegraph market for the latter half of the 1800s.

The company became Western Union in 1856 and remained a communications company for most of the early 1900s. It didn’t start offering money transfers until 1982. Today, Western Union is one of the largest money transfer platforms in the world, servicing over 200 countries and regions and offering transfers in over 130 currencies.

Western Union: History and timeline

  • 1851: The New York and Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company is founded in Rochester, New York.
  • 1856: The company merged with a competitor, the Erie and Michigan Telegraph Company, and changed its name to the Western Union Telegraph Company.
  • 1866: Western Union acquires its two main competitors, the American Telegraph Company and the United States Telegraph Company, and has a monopoly over the market.
    • Western Union launches the first stock ticker.
  • 1877: Western Union’s wire money transfer service is launched.
  • 1884: The stock market index for the New York Stock Exchanges (NYSE) is created, and Western Union is one of the 11 original companies included.
  • 1900: By this time, Western Union is operating a million miles of telegraph lines and two international undersea cables.
  • 1945-1960: The telegraph industry experiences a rapid decline, with telegraph messages almost halving during this period.
  • 1958: Western Union begins offering telex services in New York.
  • 1960: Western Union launches a limited direct international telex service to London and Paris.
  • 1982: Due to financial services deregulation, Western Union begins offering wire money transfer services globally.
  • 1984: Due to declining profits and growing debts, Western Union enters three years of restructuring. The company splits in two, with one half focusing on money transfers and the other focusing on communication assets.
  • 2000: westernunion.com launches.
  • 2006: Western Union officially stops offering its telegram transmission and delivery service.
  • 2011: Western Union acquires Travelex’s Global Business Payments division for £606 million.

How much money does Western Union make?

According to Western Union’s most recent annual reports from 2021, the company had a net income of $805 million and revenue of $5.07 billion over that year. This is an increase in 2020’s numbers, where they reported a net income of $744 million and revenue of $4.835 billion.

The only time in the previous nine years the company reported a negative net income was in 2017, when results show a loss of $557 million, but it still reported revenue of $5.524 billion for that year.

YearRevenueNet income
2013$5.542 billion$798 million
2014$5.607 billion$852 million
2015$5.483 billion$837 million
2016$5.422 billion$253 million
2017$5.524 billion-$557 million
2018$5.589 billion$851 million
2019$5.292 billion$1.058 billion
2020$4.835 billion$744 million
2021$5.070 billion$805 million

How much of Western Union’s revenue is from digital products?

Western Union was started in the 1800s, but a company doesn’t stay around this long without embracing digital innovation. It launched its website to the public during the dot-com boom in 2000, followed by several other innovations, such as the ability to pay by Apple Pay and its own mobile app.

The company has reported the growth of website transaction volume in its annual reports over the years. In annual reports from 2020 onwards, it further broke this down to show the growth of its digital money offerings.

Transaction type2018201920202021
Digital moneyn/an/a81%32%
westernunion.com12%16%44%19%

The products that make Western Union money

Several acquisitions over the years have bolstered Western Union’s business segment, including Canada-based Custom House in May 2009 and Travelex’s Global Business Payments Division in 2011. However, the largest part of the company is still its consumer products.

Segment2018201920202021
Consumer-to-Consumer80%83%87%87%
Business Solutions7%7%8%8%
Other13%10%5%5%

Where in the world does Western Union’s revenue come from?

While Western Union was launched in the United States, it has an increasingly growing presence in Europe, Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which now make up a third of its business. The revenue split by region has not changed much since 2018.

Region2018201920202021
North America37%38%38%37%
Europe & Russia/CIS32%32%33%32%
Middle East, Africa & South Asia15%15%15%15%
Latin America & the Caribbean9%9%8%9%
East Asia & Oceania7%6%6%7%

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Name Product Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer)
OFX International Money Transfers (Business)
24 hours
$0
Business customers: Send safe, no-limit transfers with no fees and competitive exchange rates.
Xe
Within minutes
$4
Xe has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
MoneyGram
Within minutes
From $0
MoneyGram has fast cash pick-up transfers to more than 350,000 agent locations worldwide.
Instarem
24 hours
From 0%
New Instarem customers will get a special FX rate and zero-fees on their first transfer.
Instarem offers offers rewards on every transaction.
Xe Money Transfer for Business
24 hours
$0
Save your time and money with Xe Money Transfer for business.
Remitly
Within minutes
From $0
Remitly has quick, affordable transfers around the world, with both express and economy options.
CurrencyTransfer
24 hours
$0
CurrencyTransfer lets you shop around for the best exchange rate on its online marketplace.
WorldRemit - 4free
Within minutes
From $0.99
Use promo code 3FREE and pay no fees on your first 3 transfers. Conditions apply.
WorldRemit sends money to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposits, cash pick-ups or mobile top-ups.
OFX