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Western Union: 6 Principles for Success - Navigating a Changing World 


Western Union, experts in the art of change for 170 years, famous for innovation (the telegram, stock ticker, telex, the first company to commission a satellite) and a global money mover, present in over 200 countries, were represented at Markit Forum Virtual 2021 by Andreas Byrne, Vendor Relations. 

Andreas shared Western Union’s 6 principles for success: 

  1. Adapt or Die. 

  2. Pick your Technology Specialisms. 

  3. Mind the Demographics. 

  4. Act Now on the Climate. 

  5. Grow Your Network. 

  6. Speak up on Ethics. 

Adapt or Die. 

Digital expansion and retail flexibility are the cornerstones of meeting shifting client and partner requirements, especially highlighted by the pandemic. 

Through a procurement lens the key areas of focus are hybrid procurement models, flexible contracts, a resilient supply chain and noting that “Speed Matters.” 

Andreas commented that Western Union is: 

  • Keeping an eye on having adequate supply of current IT products in use and one eye on the next generation of products. 

  • Expanding its digital footprint, their app is most downloaded in their category. 

  • Supporting retail partners with Covid-19 materials and health information 

  • Increasing choice for un-banked and under-banked consumers with more digital and retail offerings 

He added that during the pandemic they saw shortage of chips and saw risk around geo-concentrations in Asia and now they see new waves of investment in EU and USA of various technologies, to bring supply chains closer to home. 

Pick your Technology Specialisms. 

"Enterprise Technology is like painting the Golden Gate Bridge, meaning you start at the beginning and when you get to the “end” you have to go back to the beginning and start again!” 

Andreas stated that the smartphone has radically changed the lives of their consumers, enabling them to get easier access to money and financial services. That together with a surge in cyber-crime are shaping their technology choices. 

Western Union's focus is on: 

  • Real time, simple UX payment, processing. Currently in 80 countries, 100 soon. 

  • Machine learning to identify risks and protect against cyber-crime. 

  • Safeguarding the digital identity of their consumers with tokens, biometrics etc. In a sensitive trade-off between respecting people’s privacy and offering them solid protection. 

Western Union’s procurement decisions are aligned to their business goals where risk mitigation, regulatory compliance, and trust underpin the choice they make – often with niche technology providers. 

Mind the Demographics. 

Andreas pointed out that demand is growing in Southeast Asia and parts of Africa and that facilitating remittances is providing a lifeline to developing countries. In markets where average population age is declining there may be more focus on money for educational purposes and in ageing markets, more on medical areas. Knowing the local demand, and key cultural events in national & cultural calendars, matters. 

Act Now on the Climate. 

Andreas is convinced IT device battery tech will go greener and also drew attention to the use of green bonds, rewarding consumers for making greener choices, the sale of green/offset credits. Western Union strive to work closely with IT vendors & suppliers to ensure they too are playing their part. To that end they are realigning procurement policies, investing in critical technologies and further developing their holistic supply chain. 

Grow Your Network. 

In Western Union’s case this means branded agents & apps, and both regional and global partnering arrangements. From procurement’s perspective an international vendor platform with local presence in countries where Western Union operate is a key advantage. 

Speak up on Ethics. 

Western Union stress the importance of showing solidarity with other human beings. In their case this includes supporting minority groups, informing people how to move money in troubled regions e.g., Myanmar, and Covid-19 support- helping with supply and distribution of helpful equipment. Procurement is affected. The business Culture, vendor onboarding, safeguarding client data and regulatory affairs are all key issues to address. 

After the presentation in dialogue with Mindaugas Mickus (Country Manager at Markit Lithuania), it was briefly discussed and agreed that Markit and Western Union share business agility and are successfully serving clients across borders in a “borderless world.” 

Andreas wrapped up by stressing the importance of sustainable procurement and recommended that companies should be agile, go for it, be smart, show initiative, energy, and strong integrity. 

Watch the Western Union presentation on YouTube now.

Read the main Markit Forum Virtual 2021 Report or check the other individual client presentation reports from:

  • Danfoss - How to Make Your Procurement Future – Proof?​​​​​​​
  • SEB - Taking a diverse approach to procurement
  • Revolut - Managing procurement while building a hybrid-work company of the future
  • Greentube - How user-centric procurement can drive innovation and influence employee satisfaction 
  • Alantra - Solving IT procurement with speed and efficiency