Western Union continues to extend its digital reach with access to approximately 664 million users of mobile messaging app Viber, which enables its customers to send free text messages, photos, videos and make free calls with its push-to-talk capability, among other features. Western Union’s WU Connect platform enables Viber customers to use the app to send up to $499 that can be picked up at more than 500,000 Western Union locations in more than 200 countries.
Western Union platform’s technology enables forex conversion, data management and compliance with regulations, including anti-money laundering rules. For the agreement with Viber, Western Union is offering transfers at a $3.99 flat fee for up to $100. Fees for transfers of more than $100 are in line with Western Union’s standard fees.
“The API-based WU Connect platform enables third-party digital platforms to integrate with Western Union in order to provide a seamlessly integrated global cross-border money transfer experience to their users,” a Western Union spokesperson tells Paybefore. Opening up Western Union’s cross-border payments platform positions Western Union as a leader in financial technology and enables the company to take advantage of social media “and go where the customers are going—especially people in developing countries who get connectivity primarily through mobile devices,” he explains.
The deal with Viber, a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Internet service company Rakuten Group, follows a deal announced November 2015 between Western Union and China’s largest mobile messaging service WeChat, in which Western Union enabled WeChat’s 600 million users to make cross-border P2P funds transfers.
As Western Union expands its pool of digital partners, it takes on other P2P services, such as PayPal’s Venmo, Fiserv’s Popmoney, Square Cash and Facebook’s P2P service offered through its Messenger mobile app. Meanwhile, banks are working on faster payments initiatives to gain ground in the P2P market. Earlier this month, U.K.-based payments provider VocaLink announced a partnership with Raphaels Bank to enable more U.K. banks to access the Faster Payments Scheme. The Clearing House is working with FIS on a real-time payments initiative in the U.S., where the Federal Reserve has assembled a Faster Payments Task Force.