With fintechs disrupting remittance biz, Western Union inks deal with LBC, Pera Hub

By Rizal Raoul Reyes

Major global payment services provider Western Union recently signed a partnership with logistics giant LBC and Pera Hub as part of expanding its footprint in the remittance market and a preparation as well to the entry of financial technology (fintech) companies in the Philippines.

Photo shows (L-R) Mike Camahort, president and COO of LBC Express and chairman and CEO of LBC Express Holdings; Jeffrey Navarro, country director of Western Union Philippines; and Lorenzo Ocampo, president and CEO of PetNet during the launch of Western Union and PetNet payout services in the Philippines via LBC branches held at the New World Hotel Makati

Photo shows (L-R) Mike Camahort, president and COO of LBC Express and chairman and CEO of LBC Express Holdings; Jeffrey Navarro, country director of Western Union Philippines; and Lorenzo Ocampo, president and CEO of PetNet during the launch of Western Union and PetNet payout services in the Philippines via LBC branches held at the New World Hotel Makati

Jeffrey Navarro, Western Union country director, said the business alliance has enabled the local office of the Englewood, Colorado-based company to expand its national retail network in the Philippines with the addition of 1,200 new agent locations.

The expansion follows an agreement with PetNet, also known as Pera Hub, Western Union’s largest agent network in the Philippines and its sub-agent LBC.

“At Western Union we are committed to moving money for better, providing fast, reliable and convenient money transfers across all 81 provinces in the country. This collaboration will make it even more convenient for our customers to access Western Union global money transfers with the addition of LBC as a sub-agent of our long-standing principal agent PetNet,” Navarro said in a press conference held in Makati City.

Navarro said Western Union is also aware of the growing impact of digital technology in the remittance business. He added that consumers are driving the demand for digital services.

“Moreover, the Philippines is very strong on retail as manifested by the high consumer spending in the past years,” Navarro said. “However, Western Union understands the trend and we will come up with digital services in the future.”

More than 1,200 LBC branches nationwide will now pay out money transfers received from more than 200 countries and territories. Western Union currently has 5,900 agent locations across the Philippines (as of June 2017),

According to recent data provided by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, remittances from January to July of this year totaled $16.1 billion, an increase of 5.0%.

Larry Ocampo, president of Pera Hub, said the entry of fintechs will create disruption in the industry. However, Ocampo pointed out that fintechs will need a branch service network to offer services to the local market.

“A digital strategy can come into place when there is a disruption,” Navarro said.

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