Western Union Celebrates 160 Years of Innovation

May 19, 2011
Core Strengths Drive Company's Move Toward Future

ENGLEWOOD, Colo., May 20, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) --

The Western Union Company (NYSE: WU), a leader in global payment services, today celebrates 160 years of innovation, renewing its focus on developing new ways of moving money for better. With 455,000 Agent locations in 200 countries and territories, in 2010 the company performed an average of nearly 1.7 million transactions a day, or about 19 per second.

Western Union's vast network supports a host of promising financial services, including prepaid cards, bill payment, in-country transfers, and account-based money transfer. And with a position at the center of the emerging cross border mobile money transfer infrastructure, Western Union is poised to stay ahead of the evolving needs of consumers.

"As I look back at Western Union's history, I am amazed by the company's incredible evolution, from our pioneering of the telegraph business to our position today as a global leader in money transfer solutions for individuals and businesses alike," said Western Union President and CEO Hikmet Ersek.

"Our longevity is an interesting fact, but it is our legacy that really makes us proud. The money we help people send home changes lives and builds economies. It is a virtuous cycle, when people pay for education or for starting a new business," said Ersek.

A History Rich in Innovation

Western Union, founded in 1851 as a telegraph business in Rochester, New York, added its money transfer service in 1871 and has since grown to become a global leader in the money transfer industry. The company's founders, Hiram Sibley and Samuel Selden, set out to unite a haphazard web of telegraph lines into a unified network, resulting in an efficient, growing business.

The birth of the telegraph industry in the 1800s reflected society's growing need for connections between friends, family and businesses. In the 1900s, the company continued to innovate with new technologies, from ticker tape to commercial satellites.

Western Union Today

Western Union today is unique. While the world's financial services industry is built for those with credit, plastic, stable income and access to the Internet, Western Union focuses on making it possible for millions of people to go places, prosper and build better lives. Western Union is creating new possibilities for small business owners who compete abroad and for everyday consumers with financial needs and few others to whom they can turn.

Thanks to its consumers and Agents, Western Union continues to prosper, reporting $5.2 billion in revenues in 2010. Its business model generates strong cash flow which will aid growth strategies going forward.

The company also leverages its expansive global network to identify opportunities in developed and emerging markets where giving back can make the most impact. Since 2001, the Western Union Foundation has awarded more than $73 million in grants to more than 2,000 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in over 100 countries and territories.

Western Union Historical Timeline

  • Western Union founded in 1851; first traded on NYSE in 1865
  • Completed first transcontinental telegraph across North America - 1861
  • Introduced first consumer-to-consumer money transfer service - 1871
  • Began "time service" by broadcasting the time across the country - 1877
  • One of first 11 companies in Dow Jones Average - 1884
  • Introduced one of the first consumer charge cards - 1914
  • Sent the first singing telegram - 1933
  • Provided direct desk-to-desk facsimile communications - 1930s
  • Pioneered city-to-city microwave radio communications - 1943
  • Launched the first commercial communications satellites - 1974
  • Pioneered commercial email - 1982
  • Began consumer-to-business payment services - 1989
  • First Financial Management Corporation (FFMC) acquired Western Union - 1994
  • westernunion.com launched - 2000
  • Western Union spun-off from First Data as independent, publicly traded company - 2006
  • Launched mobile money transfer service - 2008
  • Opened 400,000th Agent location - 2009 (currently 455,000)
  • Launched Western Union Business Solutions - 2010
  • Introduced new app in U.S. enabling money transfer directly from a mobile phone - 2011

About Western Union

The Western Union Company (NYSE: WU) is a leader in global payment services. Together with its Vigo, Orlandi Valuta, Pago Facil and Western Union Business Solutions branded payment services, Western Union provides consumers and businesses with fast, reliable and convenient ways to send and receive money around the world, to send payments and to purchase money orders. The Western Union, Vigo and Orlandi Valuta branded services are offered through a combined network of approximately 455,000 Agent locations in 200 countries and territories. In 2010, The Western Union Company completed 214 million consumer-to-consumer transactions worldwide, moving $76 billion of principal between consumers, and 405 million business payments. For more information, visit www.westernunion.com.

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SOURCE: Western Union

Western Union
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