MANAMA: Digital money transfers through Western Union have been launched in Bahrain in co-operation with Nonoo Exchange Company (NEC).
The Western Union Mobile App and the WU.com transactional website enable customers to send money round the clock to almost anywhere in the world.
Both were unveiled at the Four Seasons Hotels, Bahrain Bay yesterday, becoming the latest in a series of innovations in financial technology (fintech) to be rolled out in the country.
“There is so much change in the fintech world, which is enormous and unprecedented,” said NEC managing director Fuad Nonoo.
“There has been disruption across so many different levels that even our own business is going to be disrupted, as we disrupt others.
“There is a tremendous amount of change coming and we would like to be poised to ensure that we are in the right place at the right time to take on these changes.
“If we have to morph into different things and we have to become different, that is fine, but we develop ourselves and build ourselves to being productive over time.”
Meanwhile, he said he did not believe austerity measures implemented by regional governments would lead to a reduction of the foreign workforce, which would have a knock-on effect for financial exchanges.
“There is a lot of room still for a huge Asian community, which does such important work at all levels in the countries and are crucial to regional economies,” he said.
“I don’t think that anytime soon they would be looking to move en masse.
“There will be some movement, but as long as the markets keep growing there is no reason for expats to suddenly move.”
Also present at the launch were Western Union Global Money Transfer president Odilon Almeida and Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan regional vice-president Hatem Sleiman.
“Innovation at Western Union evolves with our desire to meet customers’ changing needs,” said Mr Almeida.
“With Bahrain’s positive regulatory environment, diverse international population and a world-class financial sector, it is opportune to introduce Western Union digital services to consumers here.
“Our omni-channel platform is unique in its ability to connect the digital and physical worlds of money across more than 200 countries and territories.
“It gives our customers a wide spectrum of channels – cash, mobile app or online.”
The Gulf remains a key market for financial transaction companies, accounting for around a quarter of all global remittances handled by Western Union.
Of the $450 billion global remittances recorded by the company last year, more than $100bn came from the GCC.
“This tells us about the significance and importance of this region when it comes to money transfers,” said Mr Sleiman.
“This is because of the people who live here and the migration that has been happening in past years.”