Western Union Expands in France

Posted: 31 January 2020 10:57 am
Person filling in a money transfer form

Money transfer

The world’s largest money transmitter announced that it will partner with La Poste Group to offer real-time global money transmittance to over 10 million French customers.

Western Union, the world’s largest cross-border money transmitter, has announced that it has expanded its global money network. In a statement reviewed by Finder, the company has indicated that it will partner with La Poste Group to provide global transmittance services to La Post Group’s 10.3 million customers.

“I am incredibly proud to extend our relationship with La Poste Group and La Banque Postale as agent of Western Union. It has been thrilling to see how our two companies have innovated and collaborated to provide consumers with omnichannel service, offering the flexibility of a fully digitalized web and app experience,” Hikmet Ersek, President and CEO of Western Union said, speaking at the Paris Fintech Forum 2020.

“Western Union’s advanced digital services mark an expansion of our open platform strategy as we help other leading global organizations solve the complexities of cross-border, cross-currency transactions,”

Western Union and Post Offices

In most countries, the post office offers basic banking services. This is the case in France, where La Poste — which is the primary mail service provider for mainland France and for much of France’s overseas holdings — has a banking subsidiary called La Banque Postale, which is one of the largest banks in the nation. In response to a 1997 European Union directive dictating that postal services must be open to competition, La Poste is fully privatized.

La Poste would function as a Western Union payment agent. La Banque Postale users can either submit payments via the bank’s mobile app or website using a bank card and transmit them globally over Western Union’s Global Retail and Wallet Network. Similarly, users can accept payments digitally and receive payments seamlessly. This gives La Banque Postale users access to real-time money transfers.

Despite this, Western Union has been a retail partner of La Banque Postale for nearly two decades. Additionally, Western Union signed an agreement with Visa in June to expedite global and digital global money transfers. The agreement would allow Western Union to use Visa Direct — the credit card producer’s real-time push payment platform — to accommodate push-to-card payment requests for consumers and businesses.

This reflects a change in Western Union’s focus, highlighted by the business’s sale of its US bill payment service, Speedpay. Western Union is moving more toward global person-to-person (P2P) and business-to-consumer (B2C) payments, setting the company up to be an industry rival to Paypal.

Western Union has a retail footprint in government-operated and private commercial post offices in 105 countries. In the US, Western Union operates exclusively commercially. The United States Postal Service ceased accepting deposits for its banking service, started in 1910, in 1966 — in part due to a drop in deposits and an expansion of government guarantees for commercial banks. The US Postal Savings System ceased to exist in 1967. Despite this, most post offices still perform perfunctory banking services, such as issuing money orders.

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