Wells Fargo & Co. has struck a deal to expand its remittance network with former Western Union Co. partner Banco Azteca, S.A. de C.V., a Mexico City-based financial services company owned by Grupo Elektra.

The move comes after Wells’ funds-transfer competitor Western Union last month announced it had renewed its contract with Grupo Elektra on a non-exclusive basis. Western Union and Grupo Elektra had been partners for almost two decades; the companies first signed a deal in which Grupo Elektra distributed international funds-transfer payouts in Mexico in 1993.

They renewed the agreement in 2006, adding under a separate agreement two Western Union-branded payout services, Vigo and Orlandi Valuta.

Wells Fargo’s new deal in Mexico will expand the distribution network to more than 12,400 locations, the bank says.

“By joining forces with Banco Azteca and Elektra, we are offering our customers one of the largest number of payout locations in Mexico and offering added convenience in Guatemala, Honduras and Peru,” Daniel Ayala, executive vice president and head of Wells Fargo's Global Remittance Services, said in a March 8 press release.

“In Mexico, Banco Azteca has the third-largest branch network, and Elektra is the specialty retailer leader in Latin America, making it easier and more convenient for our customers to send money to their family and friends in their home country,” Ayala added.

Wells has been ramping up its remittance services over the past few years, particularly as it finalized branch conversions of Wachovia Corp., which the bank bought during the financial crisis.

The bank previously reported that total remittance transaction volume grew at a record pace of 27% in 2011.

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