Company Information and Credibility
Western Union is the behemoth of the money transfer business. In spite of growing competition in the past 20 years and being challenged by completely new forms of technology, this household name prevailed maintaining its leader status. It employees more than 7,000 employees across the globe and has a market cap of USD 9,000,000,000 (true for May 2017). The scariest figure about it is that fact they move more than $80,0000,0000,000 each year between customers.
Here is a screenshot from their corporate website (at https://corporate.westernunion.com/annual-report/highlights.html) with more interesting figures
Historically, it was established to provider was a telegraph services, and even back then it was an industry leader with a particular focus on innovation. Western Union had a significant role in bringing the world together as a telegraph company, and has a similar role in shaping the future in its current role as a remittances provider.
Western Union was the first company ever to send a transcontinental telegraph, and is one of few remittances providers in some of the world’s least connected regions. It boasts more than 50,000 agents, 100,000 ATM’s in 200 countries, numbers no one can compete with.
Read more about Western Union’s history on our Top 50 Historical Money Transfer Milestones List.
Numerous regulatory agencies around the world, including: FCA (UK), Financial Market Authority (Austria), FSRA (Ireland). USA: State by State Authorization.
Western Union has got everything going for it in terms of size. It has been running for so long and moving such immense volumes that are not even comparable to any other competitor in the field. Transferwise is one competitor growing at a straggering pace and reporting more than £1bn in transactions monthly but that’s a drop in the ocean in comparison to WU’s annual volume of $80Bn.
Being the largest in the field also exposes Western Union to criticism. There are thousand of client reviews online which are predominantly high negative, as well as media articles (like this one on the Economist) which portray Western Union as exorbitant in its fees.
Additionally, Western Union is one of the most abused platforms by scammers. A large portion of the money transfer scams across the globe are made through its platform, and it has received an enormous fine from the regulator for not preventing it. This was not Western Union’s only fine, as the firm has also paid $60m in regulator fines for lack of compliance with AML laws.
The bottom line is that a Western Union review cannot be completed without mentioning the good and the bad about the firm, and there’s a lot on either side of the fence.