Money transfer provider Xoom is making a push for mobile payments to improve the experience for the recipient of a money transfer.

"Mobile is a core channel for us," says Joe Raymond, vice president of product for Xoom.

The 13-year old Xoom just launched native apps for Apple and Android. It has offered browser-based mobile sites for more than a year.

Xoom also entered into a partnership with Vesta, a mobile payments provider. Consumers can use Vesta's mobile app to sign up for the Xoom service, and then use their smartphones to send money to Latin America, the Philippines, India, Europe, Australia and South Africa.

With mobile money transfers, "having a mobile device with you allows you to take care of your family," Raymond says.

Xoom is a rival to larger money transfer networks such as MoneyGram and Western Union. MoneyGram, which provides mobile access via its Mobile Companion app, is allying with PayPal and Fiserv's Popmoney person-to-person payments service to drive its growth.

Western Union also offers a mobile app, and has extended its application programming interface (API) to partners in an effort to expand its remittance business.

MoneyGram and Western Union did not return requests seeking comment by deadline.

The entire remittance market is migrating toward mobile, in part because it helps manage know-your-customer rules and other identity risks, says Arkady Fridman, a senior analyst at Aite Group.

"The digital channel is in many cases more secure because you authenticate the user with the device," he says.

Xoom differs because its mobile payments app combines with the fast access to cash, Fridman says. "They are underwriting the transaction in real-time," he says. "As a company they are redefining what the digital experience should be in the remittance business."

POWR, Xoom's real-time access product, makes for a faster experience Raymond says. With POWR, Xoom does not withdraw funds from the sender's account until the money reaches the recipient. It's a risky move for Xoom, which uses its historical database to spot possible payments fraud.

But POWR also allows transactions to execute faster than waiting for the ACH transaction to clear, which would take several days. Faster payments execution matches the consumer expectation of speed that accompanies the use of mobile devices, Raymond says.

Xoom's native apps further speed things up by providing a smoother navigation flow, Raymond says. Mobile apps can keep a history of past transactions so users can quickly create a recurrence of a previous transfer.

"We store all of the information for our customers. So for the second log in you can make one tap and a swipe and the money is on its way," Raymond says. "A vast majority of our customers are repeat customers."

Consumers can also use the Xoom apps to view the status of a funds transfer and review Xoom's fees and exchange rates. The app also lets users contact customer service representatives. 

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