Western Union renames business payments service

Source: Western Union

The Western Union Company (NYSE:WU), a leader in global payment services, announced today that it has renamed its international business payments service Western Union Business Solutions.

Western Union has offered the service under the Custom House name since September 2009. Western Union acquired Custom House - which provides international business payments and foreign-exchange solutions to small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) - last year to establish a foundation in the estimated US$24 billion SME business payments market. With the rebranding of the service, Western Union will cease using the Custom House brand.

Following the acquisition, the two companies conducted a wide variety of qualitative and quantitative research to determine the needs of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in making international payments and whether they felt those needs were being met.

According to Western Union's research, many of the businesses surveyed had experienced issues making cross-border payments with their current providers, including:

* Lack of 24/7 access
* Difficult-to-use online payment platforms
* Exchange-rate risk and lack of expertise
* Lack of transparency in the payments process

In addition, according to a report issued by independent research firm Aite, many small businesses in the U.S. that were surveyed separately reported that their current provider of the service didn't understand their needs in making cross-border payments.

"Our research has found that SMEs' overall satisfaction with their financial institutions has decreased over the last few years," said Christine Barry, Research Director of Aite Group's Wholesale Banking segment. "Many SMEs don't feel that their current international payments provider offers the products and services they need or an easy-to-use online banking application. In addition, many SMEs don't feel their current provider understands the specific needs of their business."

Western Union acquired Custom House for a number of reasons; namely, because of the company's established reputation for providing exceptional customer service to SME clients through direct branch locations and a robust online platform.

The rebranding of the B2B service as Western Union Business Solutions is the culmination of the integration of the two companies.

"Today we announce that two strong companies are now one," said David Yates, Executive Vice President for Alternative Channels, Western Union. "The Custom House team brings deep expertise in foreign exchange and in helping SMEs navigate the complicated business of international payments. Western Union brings a well-known global brand and expertise in moving money around the globe. By combining the strengths of these two unique companies, we can expand our service offering to new markets and geographies around the world."

With the Western Union Business Solutions service offering, SME customers can access local, personalized service by contacting experienced foreign-exchange professionals in 32 branch offices in seven countries. In addition, businesses can make international business payments online in more than 140 currencies 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The new Western Union Business Solutions website, http://business.westernunion.com, offers real-time foreign-exchange rates and access to a dedicated team of industry specialists - saving businesses like importers and their suppliers both time and money.

The website also offers SMEs a variety of tools to manage their businesses, including:

* Market newsletters detailing the latest trends from industry experts
* Webinars to help businesses to better manage payments
* Whitepapers containing the latest information affecting businesses

In the coming year, Western Union plans to expand its B2B service globally, with plans to enter several new markets in the next several years, with a particular focus on the EU.

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