Mastercard, Western Union Make Fund Transfers to Debit Cards Easy

October 30, 2017         By: Steven Anderson

Charles Dickens once had a great quote about money that relates to debit cards. From his book, David Copperfield: “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen [pounds] nineteen [shillings] and six [pence], result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.” That’s why debit cards are so great; with only as much cash in an account behind them, it’s impossible to spend more than you have. Mastercard recently got together with Western Union to make debit cards even better for the end user thanks to the Mastercard Send system.

The Mastercard / Western Union team-up allows Mastercard Send to work with the Western Union Money Transfer system, meaning that users can readily route cash to debit cards. The service is expected to go live in the early part of 2018, and will initially allow users to use either Western Union’s website or mobile app to transfer funds digitally from one user to another. The target of the transfer will be the debit card, as noted previously, but the origin source seems to work for debit cards, credit cards, and even direct from a bank account.

Western Union’s chief strategy / product / marketing officer Libby Chambers noted “Western Union is synonymous with fast, reliable global money transfer and payments. We’re offering customers more choice and convenience when they send and receive money. This new capability we’ve developed with Mastercard means customers will be able to send funds directly to their receivers’ debit card, with speed and ease.”

It’s the first time that a money transfer platform has ever put the Mastercard service to work, so it could be a major game-changer assuming the rest of the industry doesn’t follow suit in short order. That’s a definite risk; it’s a safe bet that other money transfer platforms will want to be able to quickly route cash to a user’s debit card, which means Western Union’s first-mover advantage may not be in play long.

Still, though, for now, Western Union’s got the catbird seat on this one; having the only edge on what could be a major market might be a significant advantage going forward. Just how long it’s an advantage, though, remains to be seen.