Western Union launches digital-only service with Dollar General

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Western Union has found a way to expand its U.S. footprint without building new storefronts through a strategic relationship it’s established with deep-discounter Dollar General.

For the first time, Western Union is limiting its remittance services at Dollar General to transactions initiated solely via its mobile app or a browser, instead of offering consumers the choice of sending funds using the online, mobile or manual approach, Western Union announced Tuesday.

The move builds on Western Union's recent efforts to digitize its 167-year-old retail agent network.

With the streamlined approach, Dollar General can now process remittances from consumers using Western Union’s mobile app at its network of 15,400 stores in 44 states—a 30% increase in its total number of U.S. locations that already include Walgreens and Kroger supermarkets—said Odilon Almeida, Western Union’s president of global money transfers.

“There is less demand on Dollar General’s resources this way, because customers who want to use Western Union already have the mobile app and there are no forms to fill out,” Almeida said in an interview.

The new approach narrows sending options for some users who may be unwilling or unable to use the mobile approach, but Almeida said that’s a fair compromise.

“This move addresses our channel strategy, where we’re extending our services to an audience already likely to be mobile-focused, that’s looking for a more convenient place to send cash,” he said.

Dollar General’s reach extends Western Union’s services to more rural zones, with locations spread out so that 75% of the U.S. population is within five miles of a Dollar General store, he said.

“This is a pretty significant deal for expanding our reach,” Almeida said.

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