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Western Union quizzed by EU on money transfer activities
February 23, 2016 / 4:46 PM / 2 years ago

Western Union quizzed by EU on money transfer activities

BRUSSELS - U.S. money transfer services provider Western Union has been questioned by antitrust regulators over its activities in Europe, focusing on whether agreements with its agents are anti-competitive.

People walk past a Western Union branch at Times Square in New York November 30, 2011. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

The company, which has agents in more than half a million locations worldwide, said it had been contacted by the EU antitrust enforcer.

“Western Union is cooperating with the European Commission following a request for information on the company’s business in Europe,” spokesman Daniel Diaz said in an email.

Commission spokesman Ricardo Cardoso said the antitrust authority was closely monitoring competitive conditions in the money transfer market.

The EU authority is seeking more details on Western Union’s network of agents, ranging from those running corner shops to those working in post offices, a person familiar with the matter said.

Regulators typically get involved when dominant market players impose conditions preventing their distributors from selling rival products, thwarting competitors from challenging them.

The Commission is checking allegations that Western Union colluded with banks to drive out smaller rivals in the money transfer market, Bloomberg cited two unnamed sources as saying.

Western Union said there was strong competition in the market coming from digital operators, mobile operators, mail and courier services, prepaid cards, travel cards as well as ATM transfers.

The World Bank last year forecast a 0.4 percent rise in global money transfers to $586 billion for 2015 compared with a 4.1 percent increase this year to $610 billion.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, editing by Louise Heavens

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