Syrian Expansion For Western Union

Date: Monday, September 6, 2004

Western Union (WU), which, until now, had been dealing, exclusively with the Commercial Bank of Syria, concluded last month a deal with the Real Estate Bank, another state-owned bank, to use its branches around the country as points of sale and develop as a result its network in the country. The deal still awaits the approval of the Central Bank of Syria, as required by Syrian law.

WU is now working to close another, more significant deal with the Syrian Post Office (SPO), to use the national network of that institution. The deal with the Post Office would enable WU to reach the smaller towns and villages where the SPO is present and to which it had no access until now, as almost all branches of CBS and REB are in the centre of the larger cities. The deal would involve the use of a network of 77 post offices in a first stage, before expanding further at a later stage.

The money-transfer firm has been present in Syria for over two years and is allowed to carry only inward transfers, because of restrictions on the sale of foreign currencies. WU is cashing in from the large Syrian expatriate community, while benefiting from the poor and slow transfer services offered by the country's six state-owned banks. Until now, only the Commercial Bank of Syria had been allowed to carry outwards transfer operations although newly-created private banks have also been allowed to carry such operations. Intercity transfers meanwhile are done essentially through …transport companies (!), again because of the inefficient domestic banking system.

WU does not carry such operations yet. WU acts in Syria through its licensee, Diyar Electronics Services.

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