The Western Union Company (NYSE: WU), a global leader in money-transfer services, announced today the launch of its Digital Vendor Program intended to extend the reach and accessibility of Western Union Money Transfer services to mobile finance initiatives in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
"Establishing a strong mobile vendor program is a critical step in the delivery of our 'Western Union Anywhere' service proposition," said Matt Dill, SVP and Head of Western Union Digital Ventures. "By collaborating on a global level with proven mobile platform providers, we believe we can simplify deployments for our mobile partners and introduce a more consistent Western Union experience for consumers."
Western Union entered the mobile finance space in the second quarter of 2008, with an endorsement for a global pilot program by the GSM Association, a global trade association representing more than 750 mobile operators worldwide. The first providers to join the certification program are four mobile finance platform providers with both active and planned service implementations: South Africa-based Fundamo, India-based mChek, U.S.-based Sybase 365 and Singapore-based Utiba Pte.
Successful mobile money service offerings are typically deployed on a single-country basis and include three service providers working together in a single "mobile finance ecosystem." Participants include mobile network operators, with well-known consumer brands and large mobile subscriber bases; financial institutions, with the legal and regulatory authority to store and hold money; and mobile platform providers (often called m-wallet or m-banking platforms) capable of managing account interaction between the consumer handset, the wireless network and the financial institution. Western Union connects into this ecosystem, providing money transfer capability under a global brand with proven speed and reliability.
"There are a lot of pieces that have to fall into place to deliver on the promise of mobile financial services," said Red Gillen, Senior Analyst Alternative Payments for Celent. "Western Union is taking steps to remove technology barriers and make it easier for its partners to launch a global money transfer service, and that can only be a net positive."
Western Union is certifying mobile platform vendors to reduce integration costs and accelerate go-to-market activities for banks and mobile operators by creating standard technical deployments. Once a bank or mobile operator contracts with Western Union to activate the Western Union® Mobile Money Transfer service, its consumers will be able to send and/or receive money through Western Union's global money transfer system, connected to more than 334,000 Agent locations in 200 countries and territories.
Initial program participants include:
Fundamo applications provide a platform for clients to deliver a configurable, connected mobile experience for consumers. The company aspires to connect financial services platforms that support the ubiquity of mobile devices.
Hannes van Rensburg, CEO of Fundamo, says, "We are both proud and excited to be working with a global market leader such as Western Union. Our platform is built to evolve with the needs of mobile subscribers, and we look forward to working with Western Union to deliver increasingly compelling, tailored and differentiated mobile financial services to consumers around the globe."
Fundamo has some 40 deployments in over 30 countries, including 27 countries in Africa and the Middle East and another 10 globally.
mChek offers a hosted service for Mobile Money Transfer and secure payments using credit cards, debit cards, bank accounts and stored-value wallets. mChek is certified PCI-DSS 1.2 and ISO 27001.
"The mChek-Western Union integration will provide a pre-integrated, turnkey solution for Mobile Money Transfer," said Sanjay Swamy, CEO, mChek. "Mobile network operators around the world can rapidly realize the benefits of customer loyalty and a new revenue stream without major CAPEX or systems integrations expenses."
mChek is live in India to customers of Bharti Airtel (103 million subscribers), Tata Indicom (36 million subscribers) and in Sri Lanka with Dialog Telekom (6 million subscribers). Additionally, pilots with mChek are underway in five other countries.
Leveraging the Sybase 365® Mobiliser Products and Platform, Sybase 365 can address end-to-end mobile commerce opportunities in mobile banking, mobile payments and mobile remittances in both developed and emerging markets - enabling end customers to pay, buy, bank and remit money with a mobile device.
"As a proven and trusted mobile payment provider with live deployments in developed and emerging markets, we are pleased to join Western Union's Digital Vendor Program," said Matthew Talbot, Vice President, mCommerce, Sybase 365. "The cooperation between Sybase 365 and Western Union will facilitate the setup of a mobile finance ecosystem benefiting mobile users around the globe."
Sybase 365 enables interoperability between mobile payment networks and has established industry reference points; live mCommerce deployments used by more than 15 million end-users and 20,000 merchants.
* Sybase 365 has created a national mPayment standard in Germany with Vodafone and o2, and in Austria with A1 Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile and Telering.
* In partnership with Globe Telecom in the Philippines, and as a certified GSMA Mobile Money Vendor, Sybase 365 has deployed Mobile Money for the Unbanked (MMU) and micro-finance solutions in emerging markets including Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Columbia and Chile, as well as Mobile Money Transfer solutions in markets including the Philippines, the UAE, Malaysia and the United States.
Utiba products are focused around providing mobile transaction and payment solutions to banks, mobile operators, microfinance institutions and payment service providers.
"This alliance with Western Union fits our vision of empowering everyone to make mobile payments," said Justin Ho - co-CEO, Utiba. "It combines Utiba's proven payment technologies with Western Union's unrivaled distribution and trusted brand."
Utiba's mCommerce-enabling products are successfully deployed across 20 countries with more than 15 operators, including:
* Globe Telecom, Philippines (GCash mobile commerce service)
* True Telecom, Thailand (TrueMoney)
* Mobilink, Pakistan (Mobile Money Order (MMO))
* Indosat, Indonesia (Dompetku)
* Maxis Telecom, Malaysia (mMoney)
* mService, Vietnam (mService, multiple MNO m-commerce environment)
* Banglalink, Bangladesh
* Telma, Madagascar
About the Digital Vendor Certification Program
The Western Union Digital Vendor Program is open to mobile finance platform vendors who have successfully deployed a mobile money offering. Certified vendors agree to maintain current version control against the Western Union Money Transfer service interface. Certification is a technical designation and is subject to periodic review by Western Union.