Western Union Expands Remittance Card Program, Offers Tax Refund GPR (Jan. 31, 2013)
Jan. 31, 2013
Money transfer and global financial services provider Western Union Co. has expanded its Receive remittance card to Costa Rica and Guatemala. Initially launched in El Salvador last June, Receive enables recipients of Western Union money transfers to put all or part of the transferred funds onto a MasterCard-branded prepaid card. The company operates the program with AirPak, its agent in Central America.
In expanding Receive to new markets, Western Union is looking to repeat what it calls the program’s “very successful” results in El Salvador, and to capitalize on some favorable demographics. Guatemalans were on the receiving end of $4.5 billion in remittance transfers in 2012, while just 22 percent have a bank account, according to the World Bank. Costa Ricans, meanwhile, received more than $585 million in remittances, with half having an account. With the addition of Costa Rica and Guatemala, Western Union’s aggressive expansion into prepaid cards now has reached 12 counties, including Argentina, Austria, Germany, India and the U.K.
Meanwhile, in the latest addition to its U.S. prepaid product line, the company has announced an agreement with tax refund and disbursement provider Advent Financial to offer tax filers the option of receiving refunds onto prepaid cards. The Get It Prepaid MasterCard will be available at more than 5,000 tax preparation offices in 45 states that offer Advent products, beginning next week. The card can be reloaded even after the refund has been spent, with reloads offered at Western Union locations and via transfers from a bank account or direct deposit. According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the number of people electing to receive their refunds on prepaid cards has grown steadily and is projected to continue to grow, especially as more states eliminate paper refund checks altogether.