Reaching A New Peak
Reported by Chien Thang
The Saigon Times Weekly interviews Ms. Drina Yue, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Western Union, Asia-Pacific, and Ms. Nguyen Thi Nhu Ly, Regional Director of Western Union, Indochina, on the occasion Western Union achieved the record of the largest international money remittance network in Vietnam, with 8,000 transaction locations in the country
|At the ceremony to grant the certificare for the record remittance payer in Vietnam for Western Union held in Hanoi|
Q: What is the competitive edge of Western Union?
Ms. Drina Yue: It’s in the three words: Reliable, Fast and Convenient. In Vietnam, Western Union has 8,000 locations. The worldwide number is 485,000 locations. With such an extensive network, we are present at all key remittance-receiving hubs in Vietnam and can help overseas Vietnamese send money home easily.
Are you satisfied with this record setting? Do you think of further moves in Vietnam in the future?
Ms. Nguyen Thi Nhu Ly: It’s just our first achievement. We will continue to look forward to higher records. Our strategy in Vietnam is to expand the distribution network through our extensive partnerships with 40 leading commercial banks, Vietnam Post and hundreds of private businesses. They have offered efficient services for remittance payment in Vietnam. We will also diversify the distribution network to meet the various demands of customers.
Western Union has identified Vietnam as a potential market. Vietnam is among the 16 countries that receive the most remittances in the world. There are about four million Vietnamese living, working and studying in 101 countries and territories worldwide. The Vietnamese are using more banking services. The rate of Vietnamese using Internet is also growing. We see many potential customers wishing to use convenient and safe money transfer services.
Besides cash money transfer, what are other services Western Union offer to customers?
Ms. Drina Yue: We have money transfer through account, which allows customers to send money from a Western Union’s transaction agent to the bank account of the recipient (cash to account), or from their bank accounts to the recipient (account to cash).
We also offer money transfer through mobile phone service, which allows customers to send money from nearly 70,000 agent locations in 27 countries to recipients who are mobile phone subscribers. In some countries, we have online money transfer through the website www.westernunion.com.
What is the amount of remittances sent to Vietnam through Western Union last year?
Ms. Nguyen Thi Nhu Ly: In 2010, Western Union helped remit US$76 billion and perform 214 million person-to-person transactions worldwide. In Vietnam, we have made a positive change to the remittance landscape in the country over the past 17 years. When we started business here in 1994, remittances were sent to Vietnam from 16 countries and territories worldwide. The number today is 200. Wherever there is a demand for remittance to Vietnam, Western Union exists.
Last year, the total remittances to Vietnam is around US$8.5 billion, equivalent to nearly 8% of Vietnam’s gross domestic product. An important part of remittances was sent by Vietnamese migrant workers to their families and relatives in rural and remote areas. So, we will try to expand the distribution network closer to the receivers.
Do you see a fall in remittances to Vietnam this year due to the global economic recession?
Ms. Drina Yue: Despite the recession, remittances in the Asia-Pacific have maintained growth, at 11% in the last couple quarters. The demand for sending remittances still rises even in time of the global economic slump.
Ms. Nguyen Thi Nhu Ly: Compared with private equity flows, remittances are quite stable. This may be explained that in tough times, Vietnamese overseas tend to work harder to have more money to send back home.
Western Union has cooperated with many different partners, such as banks, post offices, people’s credit funds and private businesses. Does this diversified cooperation affect the service quality?
Ms. Drina Yue: We don’t think so, but quite the reverse. Diversified cooperation creates an advantage for Western Union. It helps to expand our distribution network everywhere. Moreover, different partners can learn the experience from each other to improve their services. We have training programs to help agents improve their capability and make use of their advantages to contribute to the success of the whole system.
There are actually official and unofficial U.S. dollar rates in Vietnam. How does Western Union charge the fee when receivers want to get remittances in U.S. dollar? Are there any customers’ complaints for losses due to the different exchange rate?
Ms. Nguyen Thi Nhu Ly: We have different service packages for different markets and the service fee is just part of the package. Customers can choose the package they want and pay for it. Customers chose Western Union for many reasons. Besides some details mentioned above, another reason is that we offer home delivery without additional charge anywhere in Vietnam.