Mobile Commerce Daily is now Retail Dive: Mobile Commerce! Click here to learn more!

Western Union banks on vendors to mobilize money transfers worldwide

Western Union has continued to ramp up its mobile vendor program to extend the reach of its services and launch mobile finance initiatives worldwide.

By certifying mobile banking or mobile wallet vendors such as Sybase 365, Western Union can reduce integration costs and accelerate go-to-market activities for banks and wireless carriers by creating standard technical deployments. In addition to Sybase, other participating vendors include Fundamo, Utiba, mChek, YellowPepper, Comviva, MoreMagic and the State Bank of India (SBI) – many of the world’s leading mobile wallet providers.

“Partners with vendors like Sybase and MoreMagic are very important to us, and we recognize the position of the carriers,” said John Dick, senior vice president and chief information officer of Western Union, Denver. “Our initial forays into this were to establish carrier partners and vendors that service the carriers to provide mobile wallets, and increasingly we’re partnering with banks and final institutions that support the mobile ecosystem.

“Mobile money transfer and mobile wallet services are accelerating faster in developing countries, places where the bank population is less pervasive and there are many unbanked consumers that do not have access to traditional financial services,” he said. “The disruptor in those countries is the mwallet on the mobile device and the ecosystem that supports that, using their phone to send money to friends or family, or make purchases in a physical store and online.

“That’s where we’re seeing the most growth right now.”

With the mobile vendors on board—which Western Union deemed proven experts in their fields that are already offering successful mobile financial service initiatives in their markets—Western Union can introduce mobile money transfer services in more places more quickly.

Western Union has 11 agreements in place, including with Globe, Smart, Safaricom, Maxis and ABSA. The company is active in the Philippines, Kenya, Malaysia and South Africa, to name a few.

There are nearly 70,000 active Western Union locations for directed transfers in 26 countries, as well as five sister sites.

Western Union will continue to target 75,000 additional locations for mobile money transfers by year-end.

“In more developed markets such as the United States, we have emergency cash needs service—we have a different strategy for developed countries,” Mr. Dick said. “The convenience of mobile device makes it a great channel for us, so we’re developing an iPhone app and other apps that more mainstream consumers can use in the U.S.

“The Mobile Vendor program has been critical for us,” he said.

“Having commitments with partners for keeping their technology up to date with ours as preferred providers, hooking into the value chain to potentially enable multiple clients and working with aggregators and software developers to enable Western Union products as part of what they offer in the market have been significant accelerators for us.”

Sybase mobile wallet
Sybase 365, a subsidiary of Sybase Inc., a specialist in mobile messaging and mobile commerce services, has extended its partnership with Western Union, with the completion of the Western Union Mobile Vendor certification process.

The alliance will enable Sybase 365 to support Western Union services in its mobile wallet platforms and enable carriers and financial institutions to mobilize Western Union money transfers to millions of users worldwide by connecting into the Sybase 365 Mobiliser platform.

The relationship furthers Sybase 365’s commitment to strengthen its relationships with its carrier partners in developing markets, helping them to increase subscriber loyalty by enabling the ability to add international money-transfer services to their suite of mobile wallet offerings.

Carriers and financial institutions that introduce Western Union’s mobile money transfer services can connect with Western Union’s 380,000 agent locations in 200-plus countries.

The Sybase 365 Mobiliser platform powers various mobile commerce ecosystems around the world.

Sybase claims this platform supports all mobile channels, including SMS, USSD, mobile browser, downloadable client and STK, and it works on any mobile device, on any network and with any language and currency, around the world.

“Sybase’s mobile wallet solution is deployed with many customers around the world, and now we’ve certified our platform to work with Western Union,” said Haridas Nair, vice president of mobile commerce at Sybase 365, Dublin, CA. “Mobile remittance is really starting to pick up, especially in Asia, including transfer of airtime minutes, airtime top-up—remittance is cross-border transfer of value, either money or airtime.

“If a carrier that has our mobile wallet wants to enable Western Union as a service partner for remittances, its customers will be able to send money from Western Union and deliver it into the mobile wallet of another carrier partner in, say, Malaysia or the Philippines,” he said.

“Suddenly the number of places where you can send money via the mobile wallet increases—you can now send money using your mobile wallet to anywhere Western Union is accepted.”

Final Take
Dan Butcher, associate editor, Mobile Commerce Daily