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Western Union partners with Philippines fintech on cross-border payments

Western Union is partnering with Coins.ph, a Philippine fintech start-up offering financial services to mobile phone users, to enhance its cross-border payments platform.

Coins.ph is among Southeast Asia’s fastest-growing fintechs and its services can be used even by individuals with no bank account provided they own a mobile phone. It already services more than five million Filipinos via a blockchain-based wallet.

Under the partnership, Western Union (WU) will integrate Coins.ph’s e-mobile wallet into its cross-border payments platform, enabling Coins.ph customers in the Philippines to receive WU money transfers.

At the same time, Coins.ph customers can also store their crypto holdings. The wallet’s functionality will remain as it was prior to the WU integration, allowing customers to buy, sell and store cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, XRP and Bitcoin Cash and reflects the speed with which financial service providers are blending crypto platforms with traditional systems.

Reliance on remittances

WU began providing money transfer services in the Philippines in 1990 and has more than 12,000 agent locations in the country. According to the World Bank’s Migration and Remittances Brief 30, the country is one of the world economies most reliant on remittances.

“There are many overseas Filipino workers who send money back home regularly and are always looking for additional remittance options that will make it most convenient for their loved ones to receive money,” said Ron Hose, Coins.ph co-founder and CEO.

“By pairing Coins.ph’s payments technology with WU’s expansive global network, we are giving Filipinos a seamless choice to receive money digitally, on the go.

“There are an estimated 10 million Filipinos working or residing overseas. With this collaboration, we are proud to serve their families back home with even easier access our suite of services and maximize positive impact on communities in the country.”

The platform is accessible to customers in urban and remote underserved areas who need quick access to remittances. Regulated by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), it is the only blockchain-based company in Asia to hold issuer licenses for both cryptocurrencies and electronic money.

Ready to partner

WU has made several moves in recent months to keep pace with advances in technology. Last December, the group partnered with Ripple to test the US fintech’s blockchain and crypto settlement solutions for WU’s US-to-Mexico corridor. It has also tested Ripple’s xCurrent and xRapid payment products, which utilise the digital asset XRP.

In 2018, WU moved over $300 billion in nearly 130 currencies and on average processes 34 transactions per second. While WU’s latest collaboration with Coins.ph does not utilise cryptocurrencies in its settlement process, it positions the group’s network, which includes over 550,000 retail agent locations in over 300 countries, for future options.

WU’s general manager for Asia Pacific, Molly Shea, says that the group is open to exploring new partnerships. “Our customers really expect seamless, connected service. Not just fast – they’re expecting everything to be as fast as what they’re getting with all the other digital apps they have.

“So we’ve got to be able to stay ahead of that and foresee what their expectations are going to be and drive the remittance market to that, as their needs have and as wallets have been evolving. We have to be there. When you think about cryptocurrencies, if those start to take off, we need to be ready.”

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