Western Union has launched a new business-to-business platform to help companies connect with and pay each other, taking on the likes of Amazon and Alibaba as the U.S. group's traditional money transfer business faces challenges from a number of start-ups.
The process of cross-border payments and procurement for businesses can be challenging and fragmented. Individual agreements with each supplier need to be struck and often these might be through traditional means rather than online. On top of that, foreign exchange rates can often sting a company.
Western Union Business Solutions, the company's B2B arm, hopes to fix that. The company launched an online platform called "Edge" Monday which lets businesses connect with each other on a central platform and set up invoicing and payments.
"To begin with, the thinking is we are essentially providing a platform that connects businesses already doing business with each other. It will connect buyers and sellers to integrate existing processes. Procurement is very fragmented," Kerry Agiasotis, president of Western Union Business Solutions, told CNBC in an interview ahead of the announcement which was made at Money 2020 fintech event in Copenhagen on Monday.
"The reason we have gone about it is because we are leveraging existing assets. We have 100,000 companies that make payments through us already, there is a large network untapped in many ways and connecting them has been the first focus, then really opening it up to far more ubiquitous."