Western Union Says It’s Ready for Cryptocurrencies

Western Union, one of the world’s leading money transfer services, has announced that it both willing and ready to support cryptocurrencies in the future. The announcement, which hit the airwaves on social media, is an encouraging sign that the global payments arena is receptive to blockchain technology.

That being said, the announcement does have a few caveats: (1) Western Union has no immediate plans to integrate cryptocurrencies into its service streams; (2) it seems to conflate digital money transfer with crypto payments, which are not the same thing.

Teaser Video

In a video that aired on Twitter, Western Union says it is ready to begin working with crypto. “There’s a lot of hype around cryptocurrencies,” the Twitter post read. “Good thing we’ve been transferring money digitally for nearly two decades. Bring on the blockchain.”

Odilon Almeida, Western Union’s CEO, says his company is “ready today to adopt any kind of currency.” He added: “If we one day feel like it’s the right strategy to introduce cryptocurrencies to our platform, technology-wise it’s just one more currency. I think cryptocurrency may become one more option of currency, or assets, around the globe to be exchanged between people and businesses. If that happens, we will be ready to launch.”

The full video is available here:

The announcement sent ripples throughout the cryptocurrency space, though many in the community had reservations about Western Union’s understanding of digital assets. Twitter wasn’t particularly receptive to the idea, with several members arguing that the company did not understand blockchain technology.

Despite these criticisms, Western Union’s willingness to work with cryptocurrencies is a positive step for a market still struggling to overcome key obstacles within traditional finance. The company’s leaders may not fully understand crypto as an asset class or utility, but appear keen to let consumers vote with their feet.

Ripple Partnership: A Learning Opportunity

Almeida touted his company’s partnership with Ripple Labs as a learning opportunity to boost efficiency within the payments arena. Hacked reported back in February that both companies have been working together for quite some time. This included a pilot program centered on Ripple’s xRapid system, which uses XRP within payment flows.

Western Union has also filed a patent in the United States for a new payment platform powered by cryptocurrency. Read more: Western Union Pursuing Cryptocurrency Patent for Secure Transfer System.

According to Almeida, widespread cryptocurrency adoption can only be achieved by overcoming three limitations currently present in the market: volatility, governance and compliance. He acknowledged that crypto startups are already working on the issue of volatility through the launch of various stablecoins. Once governance and compliance standards are integrated, the market will be ready for greater acceptance.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Chief Editor to Hacked.com and Contributor to CCN.com, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi