GraceKennedy to introduce money transfer by telephone
GraceKennedy Limited, which manages the Western Union network, is preparing to roll out a new service, called TeleSend, under which remittances can be sent via "a simple telephone call".
This follows the introduction of Western Union Deposit Direct service which allows receivers of a money transfer the option to receive their funds directly into their bank accounts, once they are registered customers.
To access the new TeleSend service, GraceKennedy requires customers to sign up for a 'My WU' card/number and complete a registration form. Once registered, the sender calls through to GraceKennedy Remittance Service's customer service centre to initiate the money transfer, said Group CEO of GraceKennedy Limited, Don Wehby.
TeleSend transactions may only be made by senders who have access to online banking.
The service will be launched by the end of April.
Through its 25-year-old alliance with Western Union, GraceKennedy now moves money into Jamaica from 126 countries worldwide - led by the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Its share of the Jamaican remittance market remains at just over 50 per cent, the company said Tuesday.
With competitors widening their reach locally, Wehby said that Western Union is likely to maintain its dominant position through the addition of new services and use of technology.
He said new trends noted within the last three months include the growth of non-traditional outbound markets - for example, China; and a marked shift towards technology with an increase in the provision of more technology-based, consumer-driven solutions.
"Western Union's growth strategy is built on two pillars - traditional growth as well as growth through new technologies," said Wehby.
"We also need to make sure, though, that we keep on top of, or ahead of the innovations in the different markets, that will give us the ability to give an increasingly technologically savvy segment of the market the choices they want, to be able to do their transactions literally at the click of a button or with a touch of a key on their mobile phones. It's a delicate balance to make both segments happy, but we try our best to toe that line," he said.
GK manages the Western Union network in Jamaica and eight other Caribbean markets, with some variation on fees.
Wehby links some of the variation to exchange rate differentials, saying Western Union calculates its rate of exchange based on commercially available interbank rates, and then adds a margin to this rate.
"The payout value is based on the bank rate plus Western Union's margin," he said.
Wehby adds that most bank rates of exchange are adjusted regularly in line with prevailing rates on the global financial market, which can vary from day to day; and that all senders in the US receive a pre-transaction disclosure statement indicating the total transaction fee, foreign exchange conversation rate and the final payout sum for the receiver.
"This full transparency enables the sender to make an informed decision before they agree to remit funds," the GK CEO said.
In Jamaica, recipients of remittances are paid in local currency, while other markets have the option of receiving US dollars.
Wehby said only that the lack of options for Jamaica was "company policy", when asked why GK's home market was treated differently.