Yesterday American financial services giant, Western Union, uploaded a video to their YouTube channel regarding cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. Western Union’s Global Money Transfer President Odilon Almeida stars in the video and addresses Western Union’s current stance regarding cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. Almedia makes clear in the video that the two technologies are very different and hold different promises for the industry.
WU and Cryptocurrencies
Almedia states in the video that WU ‘will be ready’ to add cryptocurrencies when the time is right. WU already handles over 130 different fiat currencies and has a “deep knowledge” regarding international money transfer as they handle billions of international transfers every year. WU is in the perfect position to profit from cryptocurrencies by adding them to their portfolio but Almeida doesn’t think the industry is ready yet.
“Cryptocurrency might become one more option for a way for assets to be exchanged between people and countries. If that happens we would be ready to launch,” Almeida states in the video.
Almeida continues on the address the three reasons why he believes cryptocurrency has yet to gain mass adoption; because it has yet to master governance, compliance and volatility. Almeida expresses his belief that WU is equipped to help cryptocurrency conquer these barriers to mass adoption as they already “devote(s) substantial resources to all of those three challenges.”
Regarding Almeida’s statements, it doesn’t appear that WU will be adopting cryptocurrency into their array of currencies anytime soon, but they are prepared to do so when the moment is right.
“Whenever I’m asked if Western Union will introduce a digital currency, I like to say that we have already done it decades ago,” Almeida says. “Western Union is ready today to adopt any kind of currency. We already operate with 130 currencies. 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.”
WU and Blockchain
In the video Almeida makes sure to differentiate between blockchain and cryptocurrencies stating that blockchain technology itself does not run into any of the three problems that cryptocurrency encounters. Almeida continues on to say that blockchain technology has a large amount of potential in the fintech industry and that “you’re gonna see more and more ways of using the technology going forward.
WU has partnered with Ripple Labs to conduct tests regarding the possible use cases and practicality of integrating blockchain technology into the WU system. The tests are meant to determine if integrating blockchain technology will make payments faster and cheaper. The tests are reported to be “ongoing” and WU has yet to see any “real benefit” from Ripple’s technology during their 6 month trial period.
WU on average generates over $5 billion in yearly revenue, with a 2017 average of processing over 30 transactions a second.