Western Union Pioneers Digital Money Transfer to Cuba

Havana and Englewood, CO - 7 June 2016

Mobile app and online offerings solidify Western Union’s more than 15 years of serving Cuba 

The Western Union Company (NYSE: WU), a leader in global payments, today pioneered mobile and online money transfers to Cuba via the Western Union app and wu.com in the U.S., paving the way for a new generation of tech-savvy customers to move money into Cuba in minutes.*

The move solidifies Western Union’s more than 15 years of serving Cuba and reflects its commitment to bring access to its global omni-channel strategy to the Cuban diaspora in the United States.

Consumers using wu.com or the mobile app in the U.S. can select the new “Send to Cuba” option to send and track their money transfers, until they are paid out in minutes in local currency (Cuban convertible pesos) at Western Union’s extensive network of 420 Agent locations in Cuba. Western Union is represented across every one of Cuba’s 16 provinces and 168 municipalities through its principal Agent, Fincimex.

“Western Union has been helping Cubans in the U.S. to send money to their loved ones back home for more than 15 years,” said Odilon Almeida, Western Union president of the Americas and European Union. “Pioneering a new way for our U.S. customers to send money into Cuba via wu.com and our mobile application is yet another milestone in servicing this historic island nation.”

“We expedited activation of our digital money transfer convenience for senders in the Cuban diaspora as we know first-hand the value of remittances to the economic security of families and funding of small businesses. Expanding accessibility and moving money in minutes is what underpins our entire omni-channel strategy.”

Western Union’s four-star rated1 mobile app for iOS and Android is fast and free to download. The app’s streamlined design makes transfers easy to make and track to nearly 500,000 agent locations worldwide, including 420 in Cuba. For convenience, contact information can be saved on the app for quick repeat sending.2

Western Union has now enabled consumers in 29 countries to send money transfers to Cuba.

“Digital money transfer is an area of focus across the world for Western Union led strongly by the United States. More than 55 percent of our total wu.com outbound money transfer services now originate via mobile,” Almeida explains.

Speeding up the pace of digital money transfer into Cuba is good news for both senders and receivers. Hispanics are more likely to use their mobile phones more often than non-Hispanics to transfer money to someone else.3 Remittances to Cuba from all countries were estimated at $1.2 billion in 2013 and 2014, according to a February 2015 report by the Inter-American Dialogue. The majority of money transfers to Cuba are from the U.S., where preferences for mobile and online money transfer services are increasing, especially by younger consumers (under 35 years old).4

According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), remittances currently reach 62 percent of Cuban households, sustain about 90 percent of the retail market and provide thousands of jobs.5 “Remittances [to Cuba] are the major source of capitalization for small businesses catering to the growing visitor demand,” notes Guillermo J. Grenier, Ph.D. Professor of Sociology, Florida International University and principal investigator of the FIU Cuba Poll, which has been measuring the relationships between the Cuban diaspora in Miami and US/Cuba policy since 1991.

Consumers are looking for different options to send money, and Western Union offers fast and easy to use digital platforms to meet their needs. Western Union has been investing in a technology backbone to improve the customer experience and has optimized money transfer systems to link cash and digital to enhance speed, reliability and convenience, so customers can have choices for sending money to Cuba and the rest of the world.

* Date available will be displayed on receipt. Service and funds availability depends on certain factors including the Service selected, the select ion of delayed delivery options, special terms applicable to each Service, amount sent, destination country, currency availability, regulatory issues, consumer protection issues, identification requirements, delivery restrictions, agent location hours, and differences in time zones (collectively, “Restrictions”).

The Western Union Company (NYSE: WU) is a leader in global payment services. Together with its Vigo, Orlandi Valuta, Pago Facil and Western Union Business Solutions branded payment services, Western Union provides consumers and businesses with fast, reliable and convenient ways to send and receive money around the world, to send payments and to purchase money orders. As of December 31, 2015, the Western Union, Vigo and Orlandi Valuta branded services were offered through a combined network of over 500,000 agent locations in 200 countries and territories and over 100,000 ATMs and kiosks, and included the capability to send money to over one billion accounts. In 2015, The Western Union Company completed 262 million consumer-to-consumer transactions worldwide, moving $82 billion of principal between consumers, and 508 million business payments. 

1 WU.com app is rated 4.0 by Apple App Store
2 Read more at https://www.westernunion.com/us/en/mobile-app.html#yXgM5i41KJLRseTA.99
3 PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Consumer Intelligence Series, “Mi Movil: Hispanic Consumers Embrace Mobile Technology ,” May 24, 2014
4 PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), “Blurred Lines: How FinTech is Shaping Financial Services,” March 15, 2016
5 Analysis of The Havana Consulting Group

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