Facing increased competition from mobile P2P services, money transfer giant Western Union has made a move to bolster its own mobile offerings. U.S.-based users of Western Union’s mobile app now can use Apple Pay to send money from within the app domestically, or to more than 200 countries and territories. App users also can make domestic bill payments via Apple Pay. The Apple Pay integration will expand to the U.K. later this year, Western Union said.
Western Union was one of the earliest adopters of Apple Pay, supporting the mobile payments service to fund transfers at physical Western Union agent locations since 2015. Integrating Apple Pay into the Western Union mobile app enables users to make Apple Pay-funded transfers directly from a smartphone, using the iPhone’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor to verify transactions.
Western Union and fellow money transfer stalwart MoneyGram have been working to expand their mobile capabilities as mobile P2P services like Venmo and Facebook Messenger payments have begun to encroach upon their turf. A 2016 survey of payment cardholders by Auriemma Consulting Group found that, among respondents who reported having made an international money transfer, 40 percent had done so using a P2P app—virtually the same percentage as had used a bank account wire to make an international transfer.
But the incumbent services have focused heavily on mobile themselves. In December 2016, Western Union invested in Walletron Inc., a provider of mobile wallet bill presentment and payments services. That deal followed the company’s partnership with mobile messaging app Viber to offer money transfers of up to $499 via Viber’s app. Meanwhile, Western Union’s own mobile app continues to pick up steam, with transfers via the app able to be initiated in 18 countries. Sixty percent of its digital money transfer transactions globally are initiated via a mobile device, according to the company.
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