Western Union Trademark Filings Signal Crypto, Web3 Exploration

The international money transfer company has filed crypto-related trademark applications

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key takeaways

  • Recent trademark filings could imply that Western Union wants to launch its own virtual currency exchange and cryptocurrency token
  • The financial services company has plans to expand offerings into managing and administering digital assets

Western Union has filed crypto-related trademark applications with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, trademark attorney Mike Kondoudis said

The applications made by Western Union imply that the company intends to launch its very own virtual currency exchange and cryptocurrency token. The financial services company also has plans to expand into managing and administering digital assets.

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Until now, Western Union has been relatively cautious about entering blockchain technology. 

In December 2018, former Western Union Global Money Transfer President Odilon Almeida said adding cryptocurrencies as a customer option would be a big reach, as digital assets had not yet mastered governance, compliance and volatility and received global acceptance.

Added Almeida: “Cryptocurrency might become one more option for a way for assets to be exchanged between people and countries. If that happens, we would be ready to launch.”

It seems that now, four years later, the growing adoption of blockchain technology — alongside the increased competition in the international money transfer space — has finally pushed the financial services giant to tap crypto markets. 

Earlier this year, centralized crypto exchange Coinbase had begun trialing a remittance program for recipients in Mexico, challenging the market dominated by Western Union. 

Coinbase claimed its services were significantly cheaper than traditional cross-border payments and was looking to expand its services globally to the world’s 1.7 billion underbanked.

Even so, Western Union remains one of the biggest players in the global remittance industry, and Almeida has held onto the belief that “[Western Union is] better positioned to benefit from the crypto-currency movement in the long-term than any start-up.”

“Western Union is already better equipped to solve for such variables because it already moves money across 130 currencies and devotes substantial resources to all of those three challenges,” he said.


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