|Traded as|| NYSE: WU |
S&P 500 Component
|Predecessor||Deseret Telegraph Company |
|Founded||1851Rochester, New York, United Statesin|
|Headquarters||Denver, Colorado, United States|
| Jack M. Greenberg |
(President and CEO)
|Services|| Wire transfers |
Number of employees
The Western Union Company is an American worldwide financial services and communications company. Its headquarters is in Denver, Colorado. Until it discontinued the service in 2006, Western Union was the leading American company in the business of transmitting telegrams.
Western Union[ when? ] has several divisions, with products such as person-to-person money transfer, money orders, business payments, and commercial services. The company offered[ when? ] standard "Cablegrams", as well as Candygrams, Dollygrams, and Melodygrams.
Western Union, as an industrialized monopoly, dominated the American telegraph industry in both the 19th and 20th centuries.
In 1851, the New York and Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company was organized in Rochester, New York, by Samuel L. Selden, Hiram Sibley, and others, with the goal of creating one great telegraph system with unified and efficient operations. Meanwhile, Ezra Cornell had bought back one of his bankrupt companies and renamed it the New York & Western Union Telegraph Company. Originally fierce competitors, by 1856both groups were convinced that consolidation was their only alternative for progress. The merged company was named the Western Union Telegraph Company at Cornell's insistence, and Western Union was born.
Western Union bought smaller companies rapidly, and by 1860 its lines reached from the East Coast to the Mississippi River, and from the Great Lakes to the Ohio River. In 1861 it opened the first transcontinental telegraph. In 1865 it formed the Russian–American Telegraph in an attempt to link America to Europe, via Alaska, into Siberia, to Moscow (This project was abandoned in 1867.) The company had phenomenal growth during the next few years. Under the leadership of presidents Jeptha Wade and William Orton its capitalization rose from $385,700 in 1858 to $41 million in 1876. It was top-heavy with stock issues, and faced growing competition from several firms, especially the Atlantic and Pacific Telegraph Company — itself taken over by financier Jay Gould in 1875. 196–201 In 1881 Gould took control of Western Union.:
Western Union introduced the first stock ticker in 1866, and a standardized time service in 1870. The next year, 1871, the company introduced its money transfer service, based on its extensive telegraph network. In 1879, Western Union left the telephone business, settling a patent lawsuit with Bell Telephone Company.As the telephone replaced the telegraph, money transfer became its primary business.
When the Dow Jones Transportation Average stock market index for the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) was created in 1884, Western Union was one of the original eleven all-American companies tracked.[ citation needed ]
By 1900, Western Union operated a million miles of telegraph lines and two international undersea cables.[ citation needed ]
In 1913 AT&T, under indictment for violating the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, sold its shares in Western Union.
The company continued to grow, acquiring more than 500 smaller competitors. Its monopoly power was almost complete in 1943! when it bought Postal Telegraph, Inc., its chief rival.[ citation needed ]
In 1914, Western Union offered the first charge card for consumers. In 1923 it introduced teletypewriters to link its branches. Singing telegrams followed in 1933, intercity fax in 1935, and commercial intercity microwave communications in 1943.[ citation needed ] In 1958, it began offering Telex service to customers in New York City. In honor of Valentine's Day 1959, Western Union introduced the Candygram, a box of chocolates accompanying a telegram that was featured in a commercial with the rotund Don Wilson. On the 1970s version of Let's Make a Deal , hosted by Monty Hall, Western Union Candygrams (with a cash message inside) were offered to contestants as a prize during a deal. In 1964, Western Union initiated a transcontinental microwave system to replace land lines.
During World War II, families with sons in military service dreaded the Western Union "boy on his bicycle" arriving at their home with a telegram from the War Department or the Navy Department. The message began: "The Secretary of War [for soldiers and airmen] or Secretary of Navy [for sailors and marines], regrets to inform you that [name, rank, and serial number of the man in the military service] was killed in action [or is missing in action)]."
Western Union became the first American telecommunications corporation to maintain its own fleet of geosynchronous communications satellites, starting in 1974. The fleet of satellites, called Westar, carried communications within the Western Union company for telegram and mailgram message data to Western Union bureaus nationwide. It also handled traffic for its Telex and TWX (Telex II) services. The Westar satellites' transponders were also leased by other companies for relaying video, voice, data, and facsimile (fax) transmissions.
In 1963, Western Union organized its international cable system properties and its right-of-way for connecting international telegraph lines into a separate company called Western Union International (WUI), which it divested that year to American Securities. In 1967 WUI issued an IPO. In 1979 it was sold to Xerox for $207 million in stock. Xerox sold WUI in 1981 for $185 million in cash to MCI Communicationsm which renamed it MCI International and moved its headquarters from New York City to Rye Brook, New York.[ citation needed ]
In the 1970s, WUI installed and leased to the US Department of Defense (DOD) dedicated 50-Kbps high-speed telecommunications facilities between the continental US and Hawaii, Germany and the UK to provide a test bed for the DOD's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). This test bed provided ARPA with a proof of concept for the technology of packet switching which later became the Internet.
In 1976, Western Union partnered with E. F. Hutton & Co..[ citation needed ]
In 1981, Western Union purchased a 50% interest in Airfone. It sold Airfone to GTE in 1986 for $39 million in cash.
Because of declining profits and mounting debts, Western Union began to divest itself of telecommunications-based assets in the early 1980s. Because of deregulation at the time, Western Union began sending money outside the country, re-inventing itself as "The fastest way to send money worldwide" and expanding its agent locations internationally.
In 1987, Investor Bennett S. LeBow acquired control of Western Union through an outside of chapter 11 process that was a complex leveraged recapitalization. The transaction was backed by a total of $900 million in high-yield bonds and preferred stock underwritten by Michael Milken's group at Drexel Burnham Lambert as part of an exchange offer. LeBow installed Robert J. Amman as President and CEO who led a complete strategic, operational and balance sheet restructuring of the company over the next six years.
Amman executed a strategy of redirecting Western Union from being an asset-based provider of communications services, with a money transfer business as a large but less important part of the business, into being a provider of consumer-based money transfer financial services. Thus, Amman ran the company as two separate companies. One business consisted of the money transfer business, which was funded and operated to take advantage of the significant growth opportunity. The second unit consisted of all the non-strategic communications assets such as the long-distance analog voice network, satellite business and undersea cable assets. In the 3-year period through 1990 Amman was supported by Robert A. Schriesheim, also installed by LeBow, as a special advisor who oversaw the divestiture of the four non-strategic telecommunications assets for about $280 million.
The official name of the corporation was changed to New Valley Corporation in 1991, just in time for that entity to seek bankruptcy protection as part of Amman's strategy to eliminate the overleveraged balance sheet while continuing to grow the money transfer business. The name change was used to shield the Western Union name from being dragged through the proceedings (and the resulting bad PR).Under the day to day leadership of Amman and the backing of LeBow, the company's value increased dramatically through its years operating under chapter 11.
Following various restructurings that included negotiations with Carl Icahn who became a large bond holder, Amman engineered the sale of New Valley in a bankruptcy auction to First Financial Management Corporation in 1994 for $1.2 billion where he became vice chairman, and a year later merged with First Data Corporation in a $6 billion transaction. On January 26, 2006, First Data Corporation announced plans to spin off Western Union as an independent publicly-traded company. Western Union's focus will remain money transfers. The next day Western Union announced that it would cease offering telegram transmission and delivery,the product most associated with the company throughout its history. This was not the original Western Union telegram service, but a new service of First Data under the Western Union banner; the original telegram service was sold off after New Valley Corporation's bankruptcy and now operates as iTelegram.
The spin off was completed September 29, 2006 and Western Union became an independent publicly traded company again.
Western Union telegrams were transmitted through a store and forward message switching system.Early versions were manual telegraph systems. Later systems using teleprinters were semi-automatic, using punched paper tape to receive, store, and retransmit messages. Plan 55-A, Western Union's last paper tape based switching system (1948–1976), was fully automatic, with automatic routing.
Western Union was a prime contractor in the Automatic Digital Network (AUTODIN) program. AUTODIN, a military application for communication, was first developed in the 1960s and became the precursor to the modern Internet in the 1990s. The Defense Message System (DMS) replaced AUTODIN in 2000.
AUTODIN, originally named "ComLogNet", was a reliable service that operated at 99.99% availability, using mechanical punched card readers and tab machines to send and receive data over leased lines. [ citation needed ] Western Union failed in its attempts to engineer a replacement (AUTODIN II), leading to the development of an acceptable packet-switched network by BBN (the developer of the ARPANET) which became the foundation of today's Internet. AUTODIN service ceased in 2000, years after it had become obsolete.During the peak operation of AUTODIN, the US portion of the network handled 20 million messages a month.
A related innovation that came from AUTODIN was Western Union's computer based EasyLink service.This system allowed one of the first marketable email systems for non-government users. The system allowed the same message to be sent simultaneously to multiple recipients via email, fax, mailgram, or telex services as well as allowing messages to be sent from the integrated formats. With the service, users could also perform research utilizing its InfoLink application. EasyLink Services International Corporation is now a separate company.
As of February 2006, the Western Union website showed this notice:
"Effective 2006-01-27, Western Union will discontinue all Telegram and Commercial Messaging services. We regret any inconvenience this may cause you, and we thank you for your loyal patronage. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact a customer service representative."
This ended the era of telegrams which began in 1851 with the founding of the New York and Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company, and which spanned 155 years of continuous service. Western Union reported that telegrams sent had fallen to a total of 20,000 a year, because of competition from other communication services such as email. Employees were informed of the decision in mid-January.
Telegram service in the US continues to be available through iTelegram.
In May 2009, Western Union announced its plan to acquire Canada-based Custom House from Peter Gustavson.The deal closed in September 2009 for a purchase price of US$371 million. This acquisition led the company to be re-branded as Western Union Business Solutions. Custom House and its subsidiary XE.com were sold to Euronet Worldwide in 2015 and operate under its HiFX brand.
In January 2011, Western Union acquired Angelo Costa, a group active in money transfer and services to immigrants. Angelo Costa has a network of 7,500 points of sale throughout Europe. The agreement was signed for US$200 million.[ citation needed ]
In July 2011, Western Union acquired Travelex's Global Business Payments division for £606 million.
In October 2011, Western Union completed the acquisition of Finint S.r.l., one of Western Union's leading money transfer network agents in Europe, with more than 10,000 subagent locations across Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
In May 2015, rumors emerged over a proposed merger of Western Union and competitor MoneyGram, at a time when both companies’ revenue were declining.Western Union denied this was the case. In January 2017, MoneyGram was instead acquired unsuccessfully by Ant Financial, Alibaba’s financial technology firm, for $880 million.
Western Union's website, westernunion.com, allows users to send and receive funds to others, pay bills, locate Western Union locations, track transfers, and to purchase Western Union NetSpend gift cards. The website also attempts to spread fraud awareness using videos, articles, and quizzes to do so.
As of September 2017, the domain westernunion.com ranked globally as the 4,319th most visited website, according to Alexa Internet.
As the Internet became an arena for commerce at the turn of the millennium, Western Union started its online services. BidPay was renamed "Western Union Auction Payments" in 2004 before being renamed back to BidPay. BidPay ceased operations on December 31, 2005, and was purchased for US$1.8 million in March 2006 by CyberSource Corp. who announced their intention to re-launch BidPay. BidPay was later discontinued by CyberSource effective December 31, 2007.
In October 2007, Western Union announced plans to introduce a mobile money-transfer service with the GSM Association, a global trade association representing more than 700 mobile operators in 218 countries and covering 2.5 billion mobile subscribers.
The proliferation of mobile phones in developed and developing economies provides a widely accessible consumer device capable of delivering mobile financial services ranging from text notifications associated with Western Union cash delivery services to phone-based remittance options. Western Union's mobile money transfer service offering will connect its core money-transfer platform to m-bank or m-wallet platforms provided by mobile operators and/or locally regulated financial institutions.
The company launched the Western Union Connect service in October 2015, following partnership agreements with major instant messaging apps WeChat and Viber.The partnership allows users of WeChat to send up to $100 to China, the US and 200 other countries, while Viber users can send up to $100 for $3.99 plus exchange rate fees, with that fixed fee increasing the more money is sent up a limit of $499.
Money can be sent online or in person at Western Union agent locations. Cash can be collected in person at any other Western Union agent location worldwide by providing the 10-digit MTCN (money Transfer Control Number) and identification. In some cases, a secret question and answer can be used instead of identification.
Along with satellite telecommunications, Western Union was also active in other forms of telecommunication services:
Most of these services were discontinued by Western Union in the late 1980s due to a lack of profitability, with the company's divisions providing said services being divested and sold to other companies, such as the 1988 sale of WU's satellite fleet and services to Hughes Space and Communications, and the sale of WU's Airfone service to GTE in 1986.
Western Union was a major shirt-sponsor of the Sydney Roosters NRL team from 2002–2003. The company still sponsors the team, but not as a shirt-sponsor. Globally Western Union sponsors numerous community events that help support the diaspora communities that use the global Money Transfer service. They also sponsored numerous WWE and WCW pay-per-view events such as the No Way Out 1998 and Slamboree 2000. They sponsored UEFA Europa League from 2012 until 2015.
The First Data Western Union Foundation donates money to charitable causes globally. After the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Foundation donated US$1,000,000 to the relief effort.
The Denver Nuggets of the National Basketball Association announced a three-year deal making Western Union the team's jersey sponsor, beginning with the 2017–18 NBA Season.
Liverpool F.C. announced on August 9, 2017 that Western Union would become their first ever sleeve sponsors, from the start of the 2017–18 Season. They signed a £25m deal for 5 years as Liverpool's sleeve sponsor.
Western Union advises its customers not to send money to someone that they have never met in person. Despite its efforts in increasing customers' awareness of the issue,Western Union is used for internet fraud by scammers.
Western Union has been required to maintain records of payout locations of the individuals who may be laundering the money, though this information may be obtained only through the use of a subpoena. Hence advance-fee fraud and romance scammers continue to receive funds via Western Union confident in the knowledge that money lost to overseas scammers is almost always unrecoverable.For this reason, it is banned as a medium of payment through eBay, and discouraged on other online auction websites.
Western Union admitted to allowing wire fraud in January 2017 and agreed to pay $586m, for turning a blind eye as criminals used its service for advance fee fraud. Scammers engaging in various 419 advance fee scams including offering fake job offers and lottery prizes, were able to process transactions using Western Union money transfer, mainly by giving the agents a share of the earnings from their scams. Western Union failed to investigate hundreds of thousands of complaints that were filed by victims.
The Central Bank of Ireland reprimanded and fined Western Union €1.75m in May 2015 because of failures in anti money laundering practices which could have left the firm's payment services open to being used for money laundering and/or terrorist financing saying that they were concerned that Western Union "failed to have in place sufficiently robust systems and procedures to train agents, to monitor and identify suspicious activity in respect of smaller transactions, and to maintain appropriate records" and "the splitting of payments into many separate smaller payments is a common method used to launder money. Similarly, terrorist financing is often carried out by small payment transfers."
Western Union agents also allowed Chinese immigrants to the US to use the service to send hundreds of millions of dollars, by sending the amounts in smaller increments to avoid transfer reporting requirements, to pay human smugglers.
The book "The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11" alleged that Western Union provided United States military intelligence with personal information.
Western Union has begun blocking transactions based on suspicion of terrorist connections, as a part of the company's involvement with the War on Terror.
Western Union has been accused of engaging in anti-competitive behavior in Africa as a result of a lack of competition on the continent.According to a report by the Overseas Development Institute, this allows Western Union to artificially inflate its fees for money transfers, charging what has been called an “Africa charge” of 8% consistently “applied across countries regardless of the size of the market, regulatory costs or market risk.” However, the fees can be as high as 10% or more, depending on the region. Africa's remittance market remains the most expensive in the world, and the region is estimated to incur excess costs of $1.4 billion to $2.3 billion per year as a result of these high remittance fees.
The company has also been criticized for its use of exclusivity agreements with banks in countries that receive remittances, restricting competition and harming the consumer,by requiring the consumer to conduct transactions via nominated banks. This also allows for the imposition of above-average transaction fees.
In February 2016, Western Union was questioned by the EU antitrust regulator over its network of agents to establish whether the company colluded with banks to push out smaller rivals from the money transfer market. [ clarification needed ]
An electrical telegraph was a point-to-point text messaging system, used from the 1840s until better systems became widespread. It used coded pulses of electric current through dedicated wires to transmit information over long distances. It was the first electrical telecommunications system, the most widely used of a number of early messaging systems called telegraphs, devised to send text messages more rapidly than written messages could be sent.
Telegraphy is the long-distance transmission of textual messages where the sender uses symbolic codes, known to the recipient, rather than a physical exchange of an object bearing the message. Thus flag semaphore is a method of telegraphy, whereas pigeon post is not. Ancient signalling systems, although sometimes quite extensive and sophisticated as in China, were generally not capable of transmitting arbitrary text messages. Possible messages were fixed and predetermined and such systems are thus not true telegraphs.
A teleprinter is an electromechanical device that can be used to send and receive typed messages through various communications channels, in both point-to-point and point-to-multipoint configurations. Initially they were used in telegraphy, which developed in the late 1830s and 1840s as the first use of electrical engineering, though teleprinters weren't used for telegraphy until 1887 at the earliest. The machines were adapted to provide a user interface to early mainframe computers and minicomputers, sending typed data to the computer and printing the response. Some models could also be used to create punched tape for data storage and to read back such tape for local printing or transmission.
An advance-fee scam is a form of fraud and one of the most common types of confidence tricks. The scam typically involves promising the victim a significant share of a large sum of money, in return for a small up-front payment, which the fraudster requires in order to obtain the large sum. If a victim makes the payment, the fraudster either invents a series of further fees for the victim or simply disappears.
PayPal Holdings, Inc. is an American company operating a worldwide online payments system that supports online money transfers and serves as an electronic alternative to traditional paper methods like checks and money orders. The company operates as a payment processor for online vendors, auction sites, and many other commercial users, for which it charges a fee in exchange for benefits such as one-click transactions and password memory.
Mobile payment generally refer to payment services operated under financial regulation and performed from or via a mobile device. Instead of paying with cash, cheque, or credit cards, a consumer can use a mobile to pay for a wide range of services and digital or hard goods. Although the concept of using non-coin-based currency systems has a long history, it is only in the 21st century that the technology to support such systems has become widely available.
The Spanish Prisoner is a confidence trick originating in the late 19th century. In its original form, the confidence trickster tells his victim that he is a wealthy person of high estate who has been imprisoned in Spain under a false identity. Some versions had the imprisoned person being an unknown or remote relative of the mark. Supposedly the prisoner cannot reveal his identity without serious repercussions, and is relying on a friend to raise money to secure his release. In this classic pigeon drop game archetype, the confidence trickster offers to let the mark put up some of the funds, with a promise of a greater monetary reward upon release of the prisoner plus a non-pecuniary incentive, gaining the hand of a beautiful woman represented to be the prisoner's daughter. After the mark has turned over the funds, he is informed further difficulties have arisen, and more money is needed. With such explanations, the trickster continues to press for more money until the victim is cleaned out, or declines to put up more funds.
MoneyGram International, Inc. is an American money transfer company based in the United States with headquarters in Dallas, Texas. It has an operations center in St. Louis Park, Minnesota and regional and local offices around the world. MoneyGram businesses are divided into two categories: Global Funds Transfers and Financial Paper Products. The company provides its service to individuals and businesses through a network of agents and financial institutions.
Wire transfer, bank transfer or credit transfer, is a method of electronic funds transfer from one person or entity to another. A wire transfer can be made from one bank account to another bank account or through a transfer of cash at a cash office.
Fedwire is a real-time gross settlement funds transfer system operated by the United States Federal Reserve Banks that allows financial institutions to electronically transfer funds between its more than 9,289 participants. Transfers can only be initiated by the sending bank once they receive the proper wiring instructions for the receiving bank. These instructions include: the receiving bank's routing number, account number, name and dollar amount being transferred. This information is submitted to the Federal Reserve via the Fedwire system. Once the instructions are received and processed, the Fed will debit the funds from the sending bank's reserve account and credit the receiving bank's account. Wire transfers sent via Fedwire are completed the same business day, with many being completed instantly.
CNCP Telecommunications was an electrical telegraph operator and later a telecom company, which operated between 1967 and 1990. CNCP was created as a joint venture between the Canadian National Railway and the Canadian Pacific Railway.
Employment fraud is an attempt to defraud people who are seeking employment by giving them false hope of better employment, often with more favorable hours, better job duties, or higher wages.They often advertise at the same locations as genuine employers and may ask for money in exchange for an opportunity to apply for a job.
International Telegram or iTelegram provides telegram, mailgram and telex service. In the United States, iTelegram still operates the telex service which, until 2006, was marketed under the Western Union brand. It acquired the Western Union telegram and Telex businesses following Western Union's bankruptcy proceedings in 1991.
In many English-speaking countries, a telegram messenger, more often known as a telegram delivery boy, telegraph boy or telegram boy was a young man employed to deliver telegrams, usually on bicycle. In the United Kingdom, they were employed by the General Post Office; in the United States, they worked for Western Union or other telegraph companies.
The National Payments Corporation of India is an umbrella organisation for operating retail payments and settlement systems in India.
The telex network was a customer-to-customer switched network of teleprinters similar to a telephone network, using telegraph-grade connecting circuits for two-way text-based messages. Telex was a major method of sending written messages electronically between businesses in the post-World War II period. Its usage went into decline as the fax machine grew in popularity in the 1980s.
WePay is an online payment service provider based in the United States that provides an integrated and customizable payment solution through its APIs to platform businesses such as crowdfunding sites, marketplaces and small business software companies. It offers partners fraud and risk protection.
Xoom Corporation, also Xoom, a PayPal Service is an electronic funds transfer or remittance provider that allows consumers to send money, pay bills and reload mobile phones from the United States and Canada to 131 countries. The company was founded in 2001, is based in San Francisco, CA, and has an office in Guatemala City, Guatemala. In November 2015, PayPal acquired Xoom Corporation for $25 a share, to a total of about $1.09 billion. Prior to that, Xoom was an independent publicly traded company and was initially backed by venture firms including Sequoia Capital, New Enterprise Associates, SVB Capital, and Fidelity Ventures.
Venmo is a mobile payment service owned by PayPal. Venmo account holders can transfer funds to others via a mobile phone app; both the sender and receiver have to live in the U.S. It handled $12 billion in transactions in the first quarter of 2018. Venmo was launched in 2009 targeting the use case of friends splitting bills, e.g. for movies, dinner, rent, tickets, etc.
Zelle is a United States–based digital payments network owned by Early Warning Services, a private financial services company owned by the banks Bank of America, BB&T, Capital One, JPMorgan Chase, PNC Bank, US Bank and Wells Fargo. The Zelle service enables individuals to electronically transfer money from their bank account to another registered user's bank account using a mobile device or the website of a participating banking institution.
Three Romanian immigrants who conned eBay customers out of nearly Pounds 300,000 were behind bars last night. In the biggest Internet fraud of its kind, the gang fooled 3,000 bidders who they arrogantly described as 'idiots' into paying for goods that did not exist. Victims from around the world handed over sums of up to Pounds 5,000 for everything from concert tickets to motorbikes through the money transfer chain Western Union.
The auction giant will protect customers by BANNING the use of online money transfers. Now eBay will bring in the ban – backed by Western Union and already in force in the US – from January 15 in the UK. It will tell punters to use secure payment systems that verify the identity of users, and which can track both buyers' and sellers' accounts.
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