Our goal is to serve our consumers anytime and anywhere – Tasko Alcevski

Our goal is to serve our consumers anytime and anywhere – Tasko Alcevski

There are quite a few options available for money transfer to and from Australia and India. But choosing the right one is a head scratching experience. Most of us are prone to “whatever”. Two of the most popular modes for transfer of money are:

1.  Banks: It is straightforward and can be done online or through a branch. Banks do charge a fee and also there is the fluctuating exchange rate to worry about.In addition, the receiving bank may also charge a fee for collection of the money, usually covered as handling charges. One must be on guard, the exchange rates are applied as per the prevailing rates of exchange at the time of conversion. Fee is charged irrespective of the amount.

2.  Money changers: such as Western Union and similar companies provide services similar to the banks but are much faster and at cheaper rates thus helping you save a lot of money and hassle. They can also transfer funds direct to your bank account in India.

Currently moving money through traditional banks is more expensive and complicated as it requires senders to have an account with the sending bank. This is where money changers like Western Union step in.

WU has recently started a Direct to Bank service. That means consumers who have a Non-Resident Bank account in India can use WU to send money direct into these accounts.

This innovative service is going to benefit every sender as it is backed by a vast network of Western Union Agent locations located conveniently and also known for its Fast and Reliable service. And the exciting part is, it comes at ‘No fee for the Receiver’! Only the sender pays. This innovative form of money transfer is set to transform the way this business will be done in future and force other key players to adapt and innovate or perish. In the end competition is going to prove beneficial to consumers as it will drive fees to lower levels, which means savings.

Now in its 158th year, Western Union is backed by a strong tradition. It is a pioneer in the money transfer business and has continuously adopted new and innovative technology to provide a reliable and fast service to its clients. As new means of communication were invented WU immediately adopted them to drive its business. It kept pace with every tech savvy generation.

Western Union (WU) was formed in 1855 through a merger of New York and Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company and Western Union Telegraph Company. The company thus formed was named Western Union Telegraph Company. Since then, after many changes and mergers it has come to be what it is now. Western Union has gone on to become one of the largest money transfer networks in the world. In Australia WU offers money transfers through more than 4,000 agent locations providing consumers reliable and convenient transfer of money in minutes.

WU is proud to serve Indian Expats in Australia, who form the 4th largest diaspora with a population of 343,000. Most of the Indian migrants are IT Professionals and students. Reasons Indians send money back home are mostly for investments, savings and gift purposes.

According to WU,this is where it can help. Direct to Bank money transfer service. This innovative and convenient money transfer product has certain advantages, whichinclude:

Reliability: The receiver does not have to carry large amounts of cash.

Convenience: Funds are deposited directly into the receiver’s Bank account.

Speed: Deposits are generally credited in a couple of business days.

Direct to Bank has a flat fee of $12 with best exchange rate.

However it is not all take, WU is also giving back to the community at every opportunity. The company supports the Indian community in Australia by sponsoring the Indian Film Festival- the Western Union short film competition which allows Indians from all over the world to create short films which get viewed by elite directors like Kabir Khan, Raju Hirani, Mick Malloy and other A grade directors. Western Union also sponsors Diwali events as well as other smaller community events run by local Indian community.

I met with Tasko Alcevski, the highly energetic Regional Director of Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Isles Operations, Western Union, with a few questions:

Harnath Sithamraju: Why have you launched an account based product?

Tasko Alcevski: Western Union understands that for its customers and their families, the ability to move money means personal growth, empowerment and achieving potential.  Our research shows that over 60% of Indian customers have moved towards sending money to bank accounts. We are delighted to now offer this service to consumers where they can send directly into any of the 140 banks in India.   This now gives consumers more options to send money back home with our flat fee of $12 when sending to bank accounts.

HS: What are the benefits for customers sending to a bank account?

TA: Customers are able to send unlimited amounts directly into an Indian bank account, the $2,500 cash to cash restriction does not apply.  Being able to offer customers choice of either sending cash or directly into a receiver’s bank account enables us to compete with other remittance providers.

The Western Union direct to bank account money transfer service is generally quicker and does not have any hidden or a receiver fee, what you send is what the recipient will get.  The fee is paid by the sender so unlike most bank transfers there are no costly surprises (although we do make money on the FX).

HS: Do you expect to launch new services to India in 2014?

TA: At Western Union, our goal is to serve our consumers anytime and anywhere.  To achieve this, we are pursuing a multi-product, multi-channel strategy to enable consumers to manage their finances the way they want. We have excellent retail coverage across India with over 108,000 Agent locations and our presence spans over 7000 towns & villages year-to-date.

We will continue to expand our Agent network so it reaches people not just in the cities of India, but in the countryside and in underserved areas.

In addition to growing our physical network, we launched Bank account based money transfers with State Bank of India – allowing our consumers to direct their money directly into their bank accounts via on-line banking and not just at physical locations. This is a first in India and we plan to roll-out even more.

We successfully launched our prepaid card in collaboration with Master Card and ICICI Bank.

The possibilities for the future in India are strong: We believe that we can make good use of our network in India to introduce new channels and a broader range of services – services that provide basic financial services and promote financial inclusion among millions of people who need it to progress in life.

HS: Where can I go to send a money transfer to a bank account?

TA:You can go to any Australia Post or anywhere you see a Western Union sign that offers our service, we have over 4000 locations in Australia.  Our Agents will be very happy to assist you to send money to India, either as cash remittance or direct to a bank account.  If you are sending to a bank account please remember to bring the following information:

Bank name, Account name, Bank Location, Account number, IFSC Code.

Once you have these details head into one of our locations and try our direct to bank service with a flat fee of $12.

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