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Western Union pushes bank account transfers for remittances

Published:Sunday | January 7, 2018 | 12:00 AM
A Western Union sign is displayed at an outlet in Jamaica.

Western Union in Jamaica is ramping up its campaign to get customers to send remittances directly to bank accounts.

The 'cash to account' service was introduced in 2016 with five recipient countries on board - United States, United Kingdom, India, Japan, and China. The number has since grown to more than 50 jurisdictions.

Now Western Union is pushing more Jamaicans to utilise alternatives to standing in line at its retail outlets, even as franchise operator GraceKennedy continues its clampdown on illicit cash flows.

"The service is gaining traction as customers are indicating that they have greater control over how they use their funds. We are finding a growing number of persons showing a preference for accessing cashless options," said Group CEO of GraceKennedy Limited Don Wehby.

One of those options ties with the conglomerate's mobile money service, called GK MPay, which allows receipt of Western Union remittances via mobile phones. If they need the cash, they can show up at a Western Union outlet "and have that cash taken off their phone and handed to them," Wehby said.

For the bank transfers, account qualifications vary and are related to the country and bank of the recipient. The money transfer limits and conditions are similar to what obtains within the retail stores. Fees are also similar.

"For the receiving customer, we also facilitate them being able to have their remittance sent to their bank account with the deposit direct service," Wehby said. "A receiver has to be registered for the deposit direct service, after which they have the choice of calling our customer service centre with their money transfer control number and authorising disbursement to their bank account," he said.

Asked what proportion of clients were now choosing the alternate method of money transfers, Wehby did not respond directly, saying only that customers have varying preferences and that some will always opt for visiting retail locations to conduct their transactions.