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Western Union grows mobile portfolio with bill paying apps

Both of the new apps are tied to Western Union’s Speedway service. As consumers increasingly turn to their mobile devices to help manage and pay their bills, more payment providers are rolling out suites of mobile services for their clients.

“The apps were designed to assist billers across industry verticals to meet the evolving consumer demand for mobile payments,” said David Shapiro, senior vice president of payments at Western Union, Englewood, CO.

“It is part of our multichannel approach,” he said.

Pay on mobile
The Speedpay Mobile Payment app works with companies that roll out the Western Union billing mobile service.

A branded app is then made for the company, which lets consumers pay a bill via their device.

Cable, insurance, mortgage, financial services and telecommunication industries are the main target demographics with this app.

The other app being rolled out is targeted specifically at the utility industry. The utility-specific apps let consumers report and track power outages in addition to paying bills.

The apps join Western Union’s existing group of mobile billing services that the company offers.

Western Union also offers pay-by text SMS tools and mobile sites and other mobile apps to help companies.

A Western Union index revealed that 39 percent of consumers plan to pay more bills online in 2013.

Specifically, 12 percent of consumers surveyed said that they plan to use their mobile devices to pay bills more.

Nowadays, consumers want to be able to pay bills when and where they want. As users become more comfortable making transactions via their mobile devices, smart payment companies are rolling out digital tools to help consumers securely manage their finances.

In fact, Western Union points to an Aite Group study from September that finds 29 percent of billers will roll out a mobile app by 2014.

Mobile past
Western Union has been in the mobile space for quite some time already.

In 2011, Western Union rolled out a foreign-exchange payment service to let small and medium-sized businesses make payments via their mobile devices (see story).

Then last year, Western Union expanded the service to Afghanistan to beef up its international focus (see story).

“The apps provide yet another electronic bill payment option so that consumers can pay when, where and how they choose with 24/7 convenience,” Mr. Shapiro said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York