Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Sunday, May 05, 2002
Money & Banking - Financial Services
Western Union has big plans in money transfer sector
BANGALORE, May 4
IN 1851, it started as a telegraph company. In 1866, it introduced stock tickers, providing brokerage firms with New York Stock Exchange quotations. In 1914, it introduced the first consumer charge card. Today Western Union Financial Services Inc. settles almost $ 3 billion worth of money transfer transactions everyday.
In the year 2001, inward remittances worth about $ 190 million was made in India, says Mr Anil Kapur, Director General, India. Western Union is a subsidiary of First Data Corp. It helps consumers to pay bills and transfer payments around the globe using the company's money transfer network.
Almost 90 per cent of the global money transfer transactions is shared by banks and the hawala traders. "It's the other 10 per cent that we are fighting for,'' says Mr Kapur.
Western Union has 4500 locations in 375 cities in India. Out of this, 1400 are post office locations. By the end of this year, the company hopes to up this number to 8000 locations and 4000 post office locations.
The company is also looking at the domestic money transfer sector. "We have already applied to the Government for a clearance and hope to get it soon.''
Mr Kapur who had an earlier stint at Dubai learnt that unless the company slashed its fees, Indians living there were not going to use its services. ''That's because a demand draft was cheaper than our money transfer services.''
Is he planning to bring to India the price promotions which he started in the Gulf? "Yes, these are similar markets and we have already started our marketing campaigns here.''
Apart from the TV ads, Western Union has held road shows at all major cities in the country. The company is banking heavily on bringing-the-NRI-closer-to-home factor. And with 20 million NRIs all over the world sending money to their families, the Indian community is one of the largest markets for Western Union globally. "In fact, India has emerged as one of the five top priority markets for Western Union,'' says Mr Kapur.
Worldwide, the company has 120,000 agent locations in about 185 countries employing about 1800 people.
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