Western Union looks to launch digital money transfer service in Philippines

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People inside remitance centers inside a mall in Quezon City. Photo taken on September 17, 2014

WESTERN UNION is planning to launch a local digital money transfer service within the next two years.

“Soon enough we will also be launching in the Philippines, we don’t have a date yet, but really soon you will be able to debit from your account in the Philippines, and send money to others,” Western Union Global Money Transfer President Odilon Almeida said in a media roundtable on Wednesday.

“So you’re gonna see within one or two years, a lot of change in the way that we do business in the Philippines,” he added.

This comes as it launched a bot that allows money transfer requests through Facebook Messenger in the Philippines. Using the bot, Messenger users in the Philippines can request money from friends and family in the United States.

The service is expected to make it easier for customers to send and receive remittances, as well as streamline transactions.

Currently, Filipinos can send and receive money locally and abroad through Western Union’s retail branches.

“We really link cash to account. Send to cash, and get to account and that’s the future of the industry,” said Mr. Almeida.

“Digital is just right around the corner for us now,” Western Union Senior Vice-President and General Manager for Asia Pacific Molly Shea said.

Mr. Almeida noted the Philippines is “well-positioned for the digital future,” citing the central bank’s openness to digital financial services.

Western Union said it maintains its focus on its retail services even as they have started to expand in the digital space.

“Payment continues to grow in cash. Accounts will grow faster than cash, but cash will continue to grow. So it’s not about replace our channel, it’s about linking one to another,” said Mr. Almeida.

“We believe in a future of cash and accounts,” he added. – E.J.C. Tubayan