Western Union Faces Legal Scrutiny In EU Over Business Practices

Journalist:
March 21, 2016

In the world of cash-transfers, few other companies come to mind as instantaneously as Western Union. If you’ve walked in a convenience store anywhere between the west and east coast of the United States, you’ve probably seen a banner for Western Union. The remittance provider is currently facing a preliminary antitrust inquiry as the EU examines allegations of Western Union intentionally driving rivals out of business.

Allegedly, Western Union is giving their retail outlet partners contracts with exclusivity contracts in them which don’t allow other cash-transfer services to operate within the stores. The businesses have chosen to remain un-named as the process to investigate Western Union is private. The investigation is also covering claims that smaller remittance services were closed because of allegations that they were used to traffic drug money or terrorist funding. Currently, the remittance operator has agreed to cooperate with the EU investigation.

Western Union, a company founded in the 1800’s and headquartered out of Colorado, has been providing financial services for well over 100 years. As a money transfer service, Western Union has been able to send funds almost instantaneously for years with nearly anonymous operations on the receiver’s end.

The fees are varied with Western Union, but they’re not cheap and similar, if not much more expensive than what traditional banks offer with international remittances. The benefit of remittance operator for most people is basically the speed of how the funds are available the anonymity afforded to those accepting the funds.

Bitcoin offers a solution to those looking to send money overseas through different means than Western Union. There’s a varying aspect of anonymity with transferring money overseas through Bitcoin, depending on which means one’s uses regarding ATM’s or online wallets. The fees are much lower, if anything at all when sending Bitcoin to another person depending on the service used and the rate of funds available is only based on the confirmation time based on the blockchain.

Bitcoin isn’t the only solution available for overseas transfers either. The nature of blockchain based Fintech services could render international money transfers much simpler and cheaper as well. It’s unclear how much of the profit that Western Union and other traditional money transfer services companies have rendered over the years has been a result of operational inefficiencies and how much has been just padding their pockets. A new wave of blockchain based Fintech businesses could capitalize on this need in the market very quickly.

A new wave of blockchain based Fintech businesses could capitalize on this need in the market very quickly.

Whether Western Union has actually been trying to force other businesses out of the game over the years isn’t really what should be focused on in the bigger picture. The nature of the fast changing world of how data moves and as a result how money moves is what many in the financial industry are sharply aware of now.

Featured image from Shutterstock.