By Melissa Luz T. Lopez,
WESTERN UNION has broadened its retail expansion through branches of LBC Express, Inc., as the global money transfer firm rides on the robust growth in remittance inflows to the Philippines despite growing interest towards e-payments.
The financial services firm said they have started the payout of money transfers via LBC as a sub-agent, as they remain bullish on the need for physical outlets at a time of increasing interest towards digital transactions.
“There’s still a big preference in terms of the retail type of experience, but I’m not saying that we disregard emerging trends,” Western Union country director Jeffrey D. Navarro said in a press briefing yesterday, noting that the expanded service network comes alongside options for online-based transfers.
LBC president and chief operating officer Mike A. Camahort said they have so far seen “very promising” pay-out volumes of Western Union and PERA Hub’s transactions through their outlets on the first month of offering the service, although refusing to give specific figures.
The logistics firm has over 1,200 locations nationwide, which can now be tapped by Western Union clients for cashing in remittances and payment transfers. Western Union’s largest agent network PERA Hub — the retail brand of the Aboitiz-led PETNET, Inc. — forged the deal with LBC which took effect recently.
These add to 5,900 Western Union agents all over the Philippines.
PETNET president and chief executive officer Lorenzo T. Ocampo said they are not threatened by increasing use of financial technology as market disruptors, noting that brick-and-mortar outlets remain a key point of contact for customers.
“The branch network where you can offer financial services that are compliant with the law and with a high level of customer service are still going to be very important. When you talk about fintech, they still need a branch service network going forward,” Mr. Ocampo said during the briefing.
Money sent home by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) totalled $18.595 billion as of August, up by 5.4% from a year ago and surpassing the central bank’s 4% growth forecast for the full year.
Mr. Navarro said they remain upbeat that remittance inflows will remain growing, noting that Western Union remains open to tapping more “strategic” partnerships through their agents. He added that the money transfer company is open to exploring ties with fintech firms but will depend on business strategies.