The Western Union Co. wants to serve small-business owners that have international partners with its new business-payments wallet, the company announced May 7.

With the wallet, designed for U.S. and Canadian clients of Western Union Business Solutions, users can make immediate payments to partners in other countries with an emailed payment notification powered by Western Union partner HyperWallet of Vancouver.

The speed of payment enables users to take advantage of attractive foreign exchange rates at the moment they are applicable instead of losing that opportunity because of a time lag between sending a payment and its reception.

Western Union charges no fee for the email notice, but standard funds-transfer rates apply. The fee is $25 for same-day delivery by wire and $3 for electronic funds transfer, which takes two to three days, according to Brian Harris, Western Union Business Solutions chief product officer.

To use the wallet, the sender first signs up on Western Union Business Solutions’ small-business site and supplies information from the bank account he wants to use for payments. When the user makes a payment, Western Union makes sure the funds are good and sends the value to the recipient.

The recipient receives an email notice containing a link to Western Union’s Online FX site and log-in information. Once logged on, the recipient can claim the payment by answering a security question and supplying account information for the funds deposit. The sender can make payments from a desktop or laptop computer or by phone using the Online FX mobile site, Harris says.

Western Union contends its international payments experience differentiates it from competitors, Harris says.

“The uniqueness that we bring is that it’s explicitly focused on international payments,” says Harris. “We can deliver in over 130 currencies around the world.”

Wallets payment platforms are gathering momentum, Scott Strumello, an Auriemma Consulting Group analyst, tells PaymentsSource.

“Once upon a time, sending money abroad was something that a handful of money-center banks handled,” he says. “But the advent of new technology, and the ability to utilize payment methods like the automated clearinghouse and others, means that services like this can be offered by this company and others,” he says.


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