Western Union, in partnership with Save the Children International, Oxfam Great Britain, and Chronicle of Philanthropy, is committed to creating a financial platform, Western Union® NGO GlobalPay, which will better connect NGOs and people they serve. The company will design an efficient, transparent, and accessible infrastructure that spans the last mile and improves access to funds and payment/disbursement solutions. It will develop tools collaboratively with NGOs to help address these challenges, and design a hub for the movement of funds to and from NGOs by Q4 2014. The solution will streamline operations, improve transparency, and cost efficiency, via:
Integrated capabilities for moving funds more efficiently to underserved communities - helping to solve the last mile challenge, manage currency risk exposure, assist in accurate fund tracking, and enable response in times of crisis;
A variety of pay-out options (including cash in 100+ currencies, bank accounts, mobile phones, prepaid cards), equipping change-makers with choice, security, and control;
Integrated invoicing and tracking tools, enabling NGOs to receive and manage incoming funds quickly and efficiently;
New NGO donation fulfillment options, enabling consumer-giving online and via Western Union's in-person network;
Preferred volume-based pricing for select products;
Using a provider with multiple channels can help underserved audiences move resources when one channel is down during crisis;
Tools for planning and reporting on fund disbursement, enabling greater transparency and accountability; and
Leading financial education and thought leadership for NGOs.
These features will be available individually, or together, for an integrated solution combining Western Union Business Solutions' boutique services/consulting with Western Union's reach to 510,000 locations in 200 countries/territories. They will leverage mobile money transfer, prepaid cards, and e-wallet technology, which has the potential to significantly expand financial inclusion in developing markets.
Western Union's commitment will also include the formation of a dedicated partner service team, with foreign currency and payments specialists to provide support during busy post-disaster periods.
Western Union's vision of becoming the global hub for NGO fund movement will be accomplished through the development of incoming and outgoing capabilities, delivered through a modular approach.
The integrated funds disbursement solution will be the first of its kind. Western Union will offer NGO partners one platform for both international account-to-account and account-to-retail (cash disbursement at Western Union Agent) money transfer.
Initial Launch (November 2012 -March 2013)
Select NGO partners in the US & UK will participate and provide feedback to Western Union based on initial user experience.
Broader Market Launch (April - December 2013)
The solution will be expanded to support 100+ NGO partners in 10 markets, and enable retail pay-out locations in 100+ countries. Based on initial participant feedback, product enhancements will potentially include mobile wallets and prepaid cards, further helping to boost efficiency and transparency of the payment process.
Integrated Global Giving Solution (Q4 2013)
Delivery of an integrated solution in conjunction with industry partners for NGOs to more effectively manage incoming funds. The platform will include tools to invoice, collect, and track funds from donation sources.
2013 Education Efforts include significant expansion of Western Union's current NGO programs. Educational outreach will include: content creation of relevant and timely topics for NGOs in partnership with thought leaders, such as the Chronicle of Philanthropy; investment/sponsorship of 5-7 global conferences, 3 webinars, and 5-10 regional education sessions; partnerships with key industry associations, in order to cascade information to the NGO segment; and hosting regional NGO Advisory Boards.
2014: Western Union is committed to continuous improvement and enhancement, as the market demands. The company's annual goal is to partner with 250 NGOs who are operating in 20 markets, and are capable of supporting projects in 150 countries. Educational outreach will continue and expand on 2013 efforts.
The global payments system is a complex mixture of entangled, intermittent processes that create challenges for NGOs and make moving funds to where they are needed difficult. Moreover, billions of underserved people live the last mile away from financial systems and resources that are essential to generate social change.
Nonprofits, governments, and foundations want to help, but also face hurdles moving funds around the globe and into the field. The challenges persist because of an absence of banking and electronic financial systems that can facilitate the effective placing of funds into the hands of aid workers and beneficiaries securely. This situation is compounded by a lack of visibility into global money movement. Transactions are made through an international banking network that moves funds from intermediary-to-intermediary with a lack of traceability, often-hidden fees, and client confusion about when, and even how much money, will be delivered on the other end. Additional confusion and challenges occur if the funds are held up or even go missing on route to the beneficiary. Currency exchange fluctuations can complicate the equation further.
While populations in underdeveloped economies often prefer cash, many-such as vulnerable beneficiaries (including women), and aid workers in remote/dangerous places-would benefit from the additional security of stored-value options such as prepaid cards or electronic/mobile wallets. These new technologies will only live up to their promise if they are connected to the global financial system.
To date, no single provider allows key under-served audiences to send funds directly to banks and retail outlets (including cash, mobile, and prepaid payment options), forcing them to cobble together inadequate solutions. These audiences also have unmet needs for funds collection, particularly outside of developed markets. A system is needed to close the gap between, for example, a London-based account and a teacher in a rural village.