Western Union expands in Japan with 8,860 points of presence

March 19th, 2012By Category: Banking/Investments

For more than 160 years, consumers throughout the world have used Western Union to connect with family and friends. This rich heritage has provided a strong foundation for building one of the largest money transfer networks in the world.

With Western Union, you can quickly, reliably and conveniently transfer funds, send bill payments, purchase money orders, or pre-pay for phone, Internet or credit card services using the company’s money transfer network.

In April 2010, the Japanese government began allowing registered non-bank institutions to offer money transfer services in a bid to provide greater access to international remittance services to the country’s growing global worker population. Japan’s outbound remittances amount to around $4.7 billion per year, according to World Bank figures for 2008.

The deregulation of the money transfer business in Japan has proved a resounding success for Western Union, says Drina Yue, the company’s managing director and senior vice president for Asia-Pacific.

“In the 20 months of operation since it received its money transfer license, Western Union and its agents in Japan have introduced international money transfer services through three channels—in person at 8,860 walk-in retail points of presence, via online banking and through more than 16,000 ATMs belonging to Seven Bank where customers can send money 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” Yue says. “Approximately 8,800 of those points of presence are FamilyMart convenience stores added in early February. Pre-registration is necessary but you don’t have to set up an account.”

Western Union now has more than 200,000 agent locations in the Asia-Pacific region—the highest in any single geographic region in the company’s network of 485,000 agent locations around the world.

“The international money transfer industry is now providing much-needed services to both Japanese citizens and many of the over 2 million foreign nationals in Japan in both urban and rural locations,” Yue said. “Thanks to advanced consumer technology in Japan, we have been able to introduce a variety of service channels in less than two years.”

Yasuhiro Sakamoto, country head for Japan, said registration procedures and instructions on FamiPort screens in FamilyMart stores are in four languages—Japanese, English, Chinese and Tagalog. He said that the Philippines and African countries were the biggest recipients of money sent from Japan.

Additionally, Japanese consumers are using the money transfer service to pay for their children’s international education, send gifts and settle medical bills, travel and other essential services.

FamilyMart is Western Union’s first kiosk-based remittance service in the Asia-Pacific region and the operation was made possible by a technology partnership with DSK Japan, said Yue.

Retail walk-in locations (both sending and receiving) include branches of Travelex, Philippine National Bank, Daikokuya and some Across No. 1 and H.I.S. travel agencies. Online banking and ATM service are available to registered Seven Bank customers 24/7.

“Around the world, one of Western Union’s top objectives is to be everywhere our customers need us to be, in locations close to their homes, and available outside traditional office hours, like in the evenings and weekends,” Yue said.

Yue said Western Union’s biggest strengths are its reliable brand. “The company has a 160-year history and 135 years experience in the money transfer business and the world’s largest cash remittance network. We are trusted and well known. In the Philippines, for example, our brand awareness is 99% and we are in 10,000 locations. Another strength is the fast service. Money is transferred in minutes.”

Using the service is easy at DSK/FamilyMart.

1. Pre-register at http://www.wu-moneytransfer.com/application/index.html. Send a completed User Registration Form and identification documents by post to register yourself and receivers. To obtain a pre-registration application form, you can either download a web based form or make your request via standard mail. Within three days to one week after application, you can send money.

2. Transaction amount can be set freely by the sender (up to the maximum transferrable amount of 100,000 yen, including fee.

3. Service hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. all year round.

4. Money can be received at more than 437,000 locations, covering more than 200 countries and territories within minutes. *

5.  Fees are 990 yen for transfer up to 10,000 yen, 1,500 yen for transfer from 10,001 yen to 50,000 yen; and 2,000 yen for transfer from 50,001 yen to 97,000 yen for the Philippines, China and South Korea (and 3,000 yen for transfer to other countries).

Security is a very important issue. “Compliancy is our No. 1 priority. We insist on that,” says Yue. “Western Union works very closely with its partners to ensure security.”

* Funds may be delayed or services unavailable based on certain transaction conditions, including amount sent, destination country, currency availability, regulatory and foreign exchange issues, required receiver action(s), identification requirements, Agent location hours, differences in time zones, or selection of delayed options. Additional Restrictions may apply. See Send form for details.

For further information, visit http://www.wu-moneytransfer.com/en/index.html

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GaijinPot

GaijinPot is an online community for foreigners living in Japan, providing information on everything you need to know about enjoying life here, from finding a job and accommodation to having fun.

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