Western Union has opened U.S.-to-Cuba digital money transfer through its mobile app and website.
The company framed the announcement in a June 7 news release around the importance of an omnichannel presence that gives Cuban Americans multiple access points. More than half of outbound payments made through its mobile app start in the U.S., it said.
“Expanding accessibility and moving money in minutes is what underpins our entire omnichannel strategy,” Odilon Almeida, president of Western Union for the Americas and European Union, said in the release. “Digital money transfer is an area of focus across the world for Western Union led strongly by the United States. More than 55% of our total wu.com outbound money transfer services now originate via mobile."
U.S. customers transferring money through the WU website or mobile app can now select a “Send to Cuba” option. Users with iOS or Android devices can save contact information in the mobile app for repeat sending.
Senders can track their money transfers until the recipients are paid in local currency. Western Union has 420 agent locations across Cuba and about 500,000 worldwide.
“We know firsthand the value of remittances to the economic security of families and funding of small businesses,” Almeida said, adding that the new offering builds on 15 years of the company’s service to Cuban Americans.
Remittances to Cuba totaled about $1.2 billion in 2013 and 2014, according to estimates by the Inter-American Dialogue. Most money transfers to Cuba start in the U.S., where mobile and online money transfers are preferred.
Remittances reach about 62% of Cuban households receive and sustain 90% of its retail market, according to research by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.