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Western Union at MoneyConf 2017: Digital transformation without digital currencies

Speaking at MoneyConf 2017, which is being held this week in Madrid, David Thompson, CTO at Western Union, remarked on the importance of pushing innovation and driving digital transformation in countries around the world to stay competitive when it comes to remittances.

Since its inception over a century and a half ago, Western Union has been driven by offering new innovative services to survive, said Thompson. With over 16,000 corridors among countries around the world, Western Union has been providing services for the underbanked since it opened up its global remittance services. The company’s digital transformation has taken it to enabling phone, mobile and web-based platforms. Each of these transactions goes through a platform that assesses risk and compliance through the gathered Big Data in real time.

“This differentiates from any other company’s use of Big Data by not using it only for analytics and reports, but for real-time assessment. Particularly for cross-border operations, we need to keep up with AML and KYS regulations much more thoroughly than just for domestic. Our combination of our tech portfolio and our operational platform allows us to take on these kinds of challenges and staying in competition.”

Equally relevant for Thompson is the necessity to tailor each country’s operations to its landscape. Meeting each country’s customer needs in terms of security, flexibility, and volume. More importantly, the urgency to address each country’s regulations forces Western Union to host a  wide and varied team dedicated to compliance, and to reviewing the same company’s monitoring of compliance.”

“In each country, there is a different predominant remittance system, and we need do adapt and partner with each of the local popular platforms to provide adequate services to each country’s clientele.”

This is why Western Union is partnering with different social media platforms to integrate cross-border remittances in a frictionless way with their chat system, including WeChat and Viber. This digital transformation is bringing in new clients

Regarding digital currencies, Thompson says that the clients being targeting around the world do not express a demand for them. “Cash is still a big thing, and we have incorporated many channels, like wallets, accounts and top-ups. At the moment, digital currencies are not part of our short-term plans. However, we have started working on integrating blockchain-based solutions to address many aspects of remittances, such as smart contracts. Our implementation of Coinbase solutions will also allow exchange in Fiat money. We’ll see in the future, but digital currencies are still out of the picture.”

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