Strong Q2 performance may encourage Western Union and MoneyGram to pursue alternative growth tactics

By the numbers: Two major remittance players reported Q2 earnings—here’s what you need to know:

  • Western Union’s consumer-to-consumer (C2C) transactions increased 15% year over year (YoY) in Q2, a significant improvement from the same period last year, when the metric dipped 8% YoY. Digital C2C transactions jumped 36% YoY, down from Q2 2020’s 96% YoY surge as COVID-19 took hold worldwide. Digital money transfer revenues accounted for 24% of total C2C revenues, which grew 12% YoY on a constant currency basis.
  • MoneyGram’s money transfer volume climbed 20% YoY in Q2, a strong recovery over the same period last year—volume growth was negative through most of Q2 2020 before increasing 10% YoY in June. The company’s digital business, including MoneyGram Online, grew 44% YoY and accounted for 33% of all money transfer transactions. Money transfer revenues jumped 16% YoY.

How we got here: Last year, the financial uncertainty and economic contractions caused by COVID-19 debilitated cross-border money transfers.

Total personal remittances paid in 2020 tumbled 14% compared with 2019, per World Bank data. But global economic improvement and an increase in migrant remittances will likely push remittances back to positive growth: Worldwide remittance inflows are expected to expand 5.4% YoY in 2021 after dipping 8.7% YoY the year before, according to Insider Intelligence forecasts.

Our take: The pandemic might’ve pushed remittance players to rethink their growth strategies and look beyond core money transfer capabilities—here’s what Western Union and MoneyGram are doing as they look forward.

  • Western Union is selling off its business solutions unit to focus on building out its consumer ecosystem. CFO Raj Agarwal said the company wants to focus on creating a more connected ecosystem for its 150 million global users. It can do this by expanding its services through partnerships to reach more customers and boost volume—something it’s already been working on: Western Union integrated with Google Pay so US customers can send cross-border payments to users in Singapore and India, and it also partnered with Walmart to make its services available at the retailer’s US locations.
  • MoneyGram’s budding interest in cryptocurrencies could help it stand out from competitors. Following the collapse of its tie-up with crypto exchange and remittance network Ripple, MoneyGram partnered with ATM operator Coinme so its users can buy Bitcoin with cash or convert holdings into cash withdrawals from MoneyGram locations across the US. MoneyGram could push further into cryptos to stand out among legacy competitors that have a limited presence in the space.

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