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The Western Union Company (NYSE: WU), a leader in global payment services, announced it has opened the 500,000th Agent location through which it provides its expanding portfolio of financial services. The network spans more than 200 countries and territories, and is a centerpiece of Western Union’s strategy to provide mainstream financial services – either cash, card or digitally-based – to underserved consumers and businesses globally.
To commemorate the occasion, Western Union announced a $500,000 commitment to fund economic development and entrepreneurship programs in New York City, China, India, Mexico and the Philippines over a five-year period.
At a ribbon-cutting ceremony in New York City on 24 April to celebrate the opening, attendees included: Ms. Liu Yi, Commercial Counselor, Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in New York; Ambassador Prabhu Dayal, Consul General of the Republic of India in New York; the Hon. Carlos M. Sada Solana, Consul General of Mexico in New York; the Hon. Mario Lopez de Leon, Jr., Consul General of the Republic of the Philippines in New York; Seth W. Pinsky, President, New York City Economic Development Corporation; and Fatima Shama, Commissioner, Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Affairs, New York City.
Western Union’s 500,000th location is Freedom News in New York City. The business is owned by Deepak Patel from India, who migrated to the United States in 1986 in pursuit of a better life. Having worked late nights, sometimes 24-hour shifts across newsstands in the New York City subway system, today Deepak is living his dream, owning multiple retail stores in New York.
Complementing its core money transfer business, Western Union also is the leading non-bank provider of cross-border business payments, for mostly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The estimated international SME cross-border business payments market is $24 billion.
Hikmet Ersek, President and CEO Western Union said, “Western Union is changing quickly. Building on our strong global fundamentals – our brand, Agent network and regulatory expertise – we are creating a more dynamic organization and product set focused on the underserved market – economically viable consumers and businesses whose financial services needs are not being met fully by other segments of the industry.”
“Our vision is to establish one million Western Union touch points – in every corner of the globe where anyone, anywhere can send a money transfer, pay bills, obtain and reload a prepaid card or pick up funds sent through a Western Union yellow phone or the Internet. We believe access to financial services is not a luxury, it’s a necessity,” concluded Ersek.
Remittances contribute to economic stability around the world, by serving as a critical source of foreign capital in many countries. Western Union is a leader in this $416 billion annual cross-border flow1 of resources, completing 226 million consumer-to-consumer transactions worldwide, moving $81 billion of principal between consumers, and completing 425 million business payments in 2011.
For more than 160 years, the familiar signs of Western Union have stood as a trusted symbol for connecting friends, family and businesses around the world. Western Union was founded in 1851 as the New York and Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company. The company changed its name to Western Union in 1856 to mark the consolidation of several telegraph lines in what was then the Western-most reaches of the American telegraph system. Western Union first introduced money transfer in 1871.
Ribbon-cutting ceremony in New York City, 24 April 2012. From left to right:
· Hon. Carlos M. Sada Solana, Consul General of Mexico in New York
· Fatima Shama, Commissioner, Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Affairs, New York City
· Hikmet Ersek, President and CEO, Western Union
· Mr. Deepak Patel, Owner, Freedom News
· Seth W. Pinsky, President, New York City Economic Development Corporation
· Hon. Mario Lopez de Leon, Jr., Consul General of the Republic of the Philippines in New York
· Ms. Liu Yi, Commercial Counselor, Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in New York