Consumers can use Apple Pay either at Western Union’s locations or at kiosks in more than 7,600 Walgreens and Duane Reade stores nationwide, the Englewood, Colo., payment servicer said in a press release.
“Innovative payment options are a strategic focus for Western Union, and starting to accept Apple Pay is in keeping with the company’s blueprint for the future,” Odilon Almeida, Western Union President, Americas and European Union, said in the release.
With the new mobile wallet payment service, the company is particularly targeting customers who transfer money internationally, citing in its release that more than two-thirds of migrant international money transfer senders and more than 80% of non-migrant international money transfer senders own a smartphone.
“Western Union is rising to the occasion as we harness our system with modifications to link cash and digital transfers between retail locations, mobile phones, prepaid cards, online and traditional bank accounts, and ATMs,” David Thompson, the company’s executive vice president, global operations and technology and chief information officer, said.
A Bank Technology News (BTN) story says that Western Union’s spin on Apple Pay’s mobile wallet should “light a fire under banks” to reconsider offering the service outside of in-store and in-app purchases.
“That Apple Pay consumer is clearly “banked,’” Tim Sloane, vice president of payments innovation at Mercator Advisory Group, tells BTN. “That consumer is using Western Union to transfer money because the bank can’t or it charges higher fees.”
BTN also wrote that banks, such as U.S. Bank in Minneapolis, that already partner with Western Union on transfer services may be able to take advantage of Western Union’s new use for Apple Pay. However, some analysts tell BTN that Western Union might face customer adoption issues for Apple Pay since the servicer already has an existing mobile payment app – and Western Union doesn’t support credit cards.
“Until Western Union integrates a money transfer app into Apple Pay, eliminating the necessity for the customer to go into a Western Union agent to initiate the transfer, I doubt they have actually addressed their customers’ primary needs and preferences or demonstrated innovation,” Sloane tells BTN.