The Western Union® Company (NYSE: WU), a leader in global payments services, yesterday said that Nigeria is at the forefront of the company’s expansion plans in Africa – facilitating reliable cross-border payments with a growing retail agent network and expansion into new channels with mobile payments and account-based money transfers.
With more than half a million locations in 200 countries and territories, Western Union has been present in Africa since 1995 and has more than 27,000 Agent locations spanning 50 countries across the continent. In Nigeria alone, Western Union has more than 4,800 locations represented by a majority of Nigeria’s banks.
On a two-day visit to Nigeria, Western Union’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Hikmet Ersek, said, “Western Union’s vision is to become the world’s premier financial services provider for people around the globe who have unmet financial needs. To achieve this, we are pursuing a multi-product, multi-channel strategy to enable consumers to manage their finances any way and any time they want. Nigeria is at the forefront of leading our commitment in Africa.”
“Speeding financial inclusion, giving more people access to basic financial services, is at the heart of Western Union’s investment and commitment to work with partners in other industries to offer new products and services,” he said. “We are already demonstrating this in Nigeria with remittances into retail, direct-to-bank and through mobile.”
“For our consumers, this means the ability to move money for personal growth, empowerment and personal achievement. For all of these reasons, and more, I am delighted to be here in Nigeria – the world’s fifth largest remittance receiver – to see Western Union’s multiple channel traction taking shape, in association with multiple collaborators,” he said.
“As a leading global payments services company, we are also committed to continuing to bring best practices in the areas of consumer protection, fraud prevention and anti-money laundering,” he added.
Aida Diarra, Regional Vice President, North Central Africa, Western Union, said, “When Western Union commenced its services in Nigeria, the company moved money from 69 countries into Nigeria; in 2012, we moved money from 196 countries. This is testimony to the fact that an integral part of inclusive financial services is a robust and regulated multiple channel network, globally and locally.”
“The possibilities for the future here in Nigeria are strong. We believe that, as we continue to cooperate with other companies and regulators, we can make good use of our network in Nigeria to introduce new channels and a broader range of services that provide basic financial services and promote financial inclusion among millions of people,” she said.
The company’s first bank agent, First Bank of Nigeria (FBN), inked an additional five-year agreement with the company this month.
Account Based Money Transfer (ABMT), a service that allows the receipt of funds transferred through Western Union directly to bank accounts, is currently available with GTBank and Stanbic IBTC. ABMT will also be launched with Eco-Bank.
More recently, Mobile Money Transfer (MMT) was introduced, offering Nigerian consumers the choice to receive transferred funds into their mobile wallets. It is currently available on Virtual Terminal Network (VTN) with access to 500,000 m-wallets. It will be further expanded with a launch with eTranzact in the coming months. These products form the base of Western Union’s innovative digital product strategy, which is in line with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Cashless Policy.
Western Union also plays a key role in financial inclusion in Nigeria, which goes beyond enabling consumers to receive money. The company and the Western Union Foundation have partnered with the Tony Elumelu Foundation, the Bank of Industry (BOI) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to support entrepreneurship and help create growth for small- and medium-sized business enterprises in Nigeria and across Africa. Through the unique opportunity, provided by the African Diaspora Marketplace and related programs, Nigerian businesses have been empowered with – development grants, business training and access to pitch to investors and bankers for equity and loan financing.