How Western Union Looks to Balance Mobile Payments, Cash

June 4, 2019         By: Steven Anderson

While the notion that “cash is king” may be a little less sure than it was just three years ago, the notion that cash is on its way out seems about as likely to be true as the notion that, soon, we’ll be paying for goods and services with bottle caps. Thus, an uneasy truce between cash and digital is likely to be front and center for the foreseeable future, and a new report suggests that Western Union is frantically looking to balance the two payment concepts out.

Western Union—as expressed by its president of global money transfer Odilon Almeida—noted that the demand for cash was likely to never really go away. After all, one of Western Union’s biggest markets is for a kind of cash transfer known commonly as remittances.

However, there’s a growth of other options, like mobile payments tools, that are allowing users to skip Western Union and perform remittances from their own mobile devices. With mobile devices being popular and heavily used in countries that are frequent remittance targets, that’s making users reconsider cash, and by extension, Western Union.

Thus, we’re seeing Western Union actively consider its future. Not only is it maintaining the current, cash-based systems to help its current crop of customers, but it’s also actively working to build its own systems to combine cash and digital. That’s left Western Union pursuing new partnerships to augment its digital offerings.

Western Union is covering all its bases here; for those who want cash-based options, it can offer those as it has been offering them for years, if not decades outright. By like token, the faster it can get into a position where it can say, hey, you can use this mobile system if you like instead, the more likely it is to retain that customer base. Instead of having customers jump ship, it can keep them in the fold, and that’s a move that ensures Western Union’s viability for years to come.

Western Union is working both sides of the fence here, and that’s a good move going forward. It has a little ways to go before it gets there yet, but it’s definitely in a better position than it could be.