Cash Transfer Market under EU scrutiny as Western Union questioned by Commission

Written on 26 Feb 2016

Money transfer service provider Western Union has been questioned by the European Commission (Commission) in respect of its business in Europe.

Reports suggest that the Commission is investigating complaints that Western Union colluded with banks to drive rival money transfer operators out of the cash transfer market. In particular, the Commission is investigating whether the exclusivity contracts Western Union has entered into with retail outlets breach EU competition law rules.

Western Union confirmed the investigation, stating that it is ‘cooperating with the European Commission following a request for information on the company’s business in Europe’ and that the company is ‘fully supportive of improving understanding of the money transfer sector’.

While no official press release has been published, Commission spokesperson Ricardo Cardoso has confirmed that the Commission ‘is closely monitoring competitive conditions in the money transfer market’.

Although it is unclear whether a full investigation will be launched by the Commission, this preliminary inquiry confirms that the cash transfer market is firmly on the Commission’s radar and companies operating within this space should reflect on whether their practices are fully compliant with EU competition law.