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Western Union Expands in China

Zacks Equity Research

The world’s leading money transfer company, Western Union Co. ( WU), has enabled international direct-to-bank remittance in China. Now, 23 countries will be able to remit funds directly into their bank accounts in China, via select retail locations and online site www.westernunion.com online money transfer sites. The service has been introduced along with ChinaPay.


ChinaPay is the online payment subsidiary of China UnionPay. Founded in 2000, China UnionPay is China’s government-backed inter-bank transfer network and credit card issuer.


ChinaPay provides online payments, banking, and brokerage services, as well as offline bill payment and point of service (“POS”) terminals. It is the third-largest online payment company in China. With ChinaPay, Western Union will be able to reach more than 95% of all personal bank accounts in China


Western Union has picked up the industry-leading online system – ChinaPay – since it holds a very good market reputation in the country and has over hundreds of millions of users.


Western Union has an old relationship with ChinaPay. In Nov 2012, Western Union announced the expansion of its existing agreement with ChinaPay. The extension with Chinapay was done to enable tuition fees payment to international universities across the globe in its local currency Renminbi.


Along side, Western Union has also initiated account based money transfers with Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (“ICBC”). The agreement will allow more than 400 million ICBC customers to direct Western Union money transfers received from more than 200 countries and territories into their bank accounts via online banking 24 hours a day. This facility will be available seven days a week. In 2012, there were 197 countries from where money moved into China. 


Western Union is aggressively expanding its reach in China. It is expected that in the next five years, China or rather Asia will be the top destination for global remittances. The region will become a powerhouse because of the economic boom and the development in science and technology.


China, with whom Western Union has had ties for over a decade, is one of the major “receive” locations in South East Asia. It has always been an important market for Western Union, considering the volume of the country’s overseas migrants


Earlier in Feb 2013, Western Union announced the introduction of direct to bank service in China. With this service, the customers in the region will be able to receive money direct into their bank accounts when the money is remitted from U.K. from the company’s online site westernunion.com. 


Western Union already has tie ups with Chinese Banks – the Bank of Jilin, Fugan Hashi Bank, Bank of Harbin, Fujian Haixia Bank and Zhejiang Chouzhou Commercial Bank, The Postal Savings Bank of China (“PSBC”), the Agricultural Bank of China and China Everbright Bank.


Another company having a significant presence in the Asian market is Moneygram International Inc. ( MGI).


Western Union carries a Zacks Rank # 3 (Hold). Other players Outerwall Inc. ( OUTR), and Xoom Corp. ( XOOM), both with Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), are worth considering.

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