Western Union
Overview
 
The Western Union Company is a financial services and communications company based in the United States. Its North American headquarters is in Englewood, Colorado
Englewood, Colorado
The city of Englewood is a Home Rule Municipality located in Arapahoe County, Colorado, United States. As of 2007, the city is estimated to have a total population of 32,532. Englewood is part of the Denver-Aurora Metropolitan Area. Englewood is located in the South Platte River Valley east of the...

. Up until 2006, Western Union was the best-known U.S. company in the business of exchanging telegrams.

Western Union has several divisions, with products such as person-to-person money transfer, money order
Money order
A money order is a payment order for a pre-specified amount of money. Because it is required that the funds be prepaid for the amount shown on it, it is a more trusted method of payment than a cheque.-History of money orders:...

s, business payments and commercial services.

Western Union, as an industrialized monopoly
Monopoly
A monopoly exists when a specific person or enterprise is the only supplier of a particular commodity...

, dominated the telegraph industry in the late 19th century.
Encyclopedia
The Western Union Company is a financial services and communications company based in the United States. Its North American headquarters is in Englewood, Colorado
Englewood, Colorado
The city of Englewood is a Home Rule Municipality located in Arapahoe County, Colorado, United States. As of 2007, the city is estimated to have a total population of 32,532. Englewood is part of the Denver-Aurora Metropolitan Area. Englewood is located in the South Platte River Valley east of the...

. Up until 2006, Western Union was the best-known U.S. company in the business of exchanging telegrams.

Western Union has several divisions, with products such as person-to-person money transfer, money order
Money order
A money order is a payment order for a pre-specified amount of money. Because it is required that the funds be prepaid for the amount shown on it, it is a more trusted method of payment than a cheque.-History of money orders:...

s, business payments and commercial services.

Western Union, as an industrialized monopoly
Monopoly
A monopoly exists when a specific person or enterprise is the only supplier of a particular commodity...

, dominated the telegraph industry in the late 19th century. It was the first communications empire and set a pattern for American-style communications businesses as they are known today.

19th century

In 1851, the New York and Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company was organized in Rochester, New York
Rochester, New York
Rochester is a city in Monroe County, New York, south of Lake Ontario in the United States. Known as The World's Image Centre, it was also once known as The Flour City, and more recently as The Flower City...

 by Hiram Sibley
Hiram Sibley
Hiram Sibley , was an industrialist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist.Sibley was born in North Adams, Massachusetts, and later resided in Rochester, New York. He became interested in the work of Samuel Morse involving the telegraph.In 1840, he joined with Morse and Ezra Cornell to create a...

 and others, with the goal of creating one great telegraph system with unified and efficient operations. Meanwhile, Ezra Cornell
Ezra Cornell
Ezra Cornell was an American businessman and education administrator. He was a founder of Western Union and a co-founder of Cornell University...

 had bought back one of his bankrupt companies and renamed it the New York & Western Union Telegraph Company. Originally fierce competitors, by 1855 both groups were finally convinced that consolidation was their only alternative for progress. The merged company was named The Western Union Telegraph Company at Cornell's insistence, and Western Union was born.

Western Union bought out smaller companies rapidly, and by 1860 its lines reached from the East Coast
East Coast of the United States
The East Coast of the United States, also known as the Eastern Seaboard, refers to the easternmost coastal states in the United States, which touch the Atlantic Ocean and stretch up to Canada. The term includes the U.S...

 to the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

, and from the Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

 to the Ohio River
Ohio River
The Ohio River is the largest tributary, by volume, of the Mississippi River. At the confluence, the Ohio is even bigger than the Mississippi and, thus, is hydrologically the main stream of the whole river system, including the Allegheny River further upstream...

. In 1861 it opened the first transcontinental telegraph
First Transcontinental Telegraph
The First Transcontinental Telegraph was a milestone in electrical engineering and in the formation of the United States of America. It served as the only method of near-instantaneous communication between the east and west coasts during the 1860s....

. In 1865 it formed the Russian American Telegraph
Russian American Telegraph
The Russian–American Telegraph, also known as the Western Union Telegraph Expedition and the Collins Overland Telegraph, was a $3,000,000 undertaking by the Western Union Telegraph Company in 1865-1867, to lay an electric telegraph line from San Francisco, California to Moscow, Russia.The route was...

 in an attempt to link America to Europe, via Alaska, into Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

, to Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

. (This project was abandoned in 1867.) The company enjoyed phenomenal growth during the next few years. Its capitalization rose from $385,700 in 1858 to $41 million in 1876. However it was top-heavy with stock issues, and faced growing competition from several firms, especially the Atlantic and Pacific Telegraph Company
Atlantic and Pacific Telegraph Company
The Atlantic and Pacific Telegraph Company was an American communications company that operated in the 19th century. The Maine Legislature chartered the company in 1854...

--itself taken over by financier Jay Gould
Jay Gould
Jason "Jay" Gould was a leading American railroad developer and speculator. He has long been vilified as an archetypal robber baron, whose successes made him the ninth richest American in history. Condé Nast Portfolio ranked Gould as the 8th worst American CEO of all time...

 in 1875. In 1881 Gould took control of Western Union.

It introduced the first stock ticker
Ticker tape
Ticker tape was the earliest digital electronic communications medium, transmitting stock price information over telegraph lines, in use between around 1870 through 1970...

 in 1866, and a standardized time service in 1870. The next year, 1871, the company introduced its money transfer
Value transfer system
A value transfer system refers to any system, mechanism, or network of people that receives money for the purpose of making the funds or an equivalent value payable to a third party in another geographic location, whether or not in the same form....

 service, based on its extensive telegraph network. In 1879, Western Union left the telephone
Telephone
The telephone , colloquially referred to as a phone, is a telecommunications device that transmits and receives sounds, usually the human voice. Telephones are a point-to-point communication system whose most basic function is to allow two people separated by large distances to talk to each other...

 business, having lost a patent lawsuit with Bell Telephone Company. As the telephone replaced the telegraph, money transfer would become its primary business.

When the Dow Jones Transportation Average
Dow Jones Transportation Average
The Dow Jones Transportation Average is a U.S. stock market index from Dow Jones Indexes of the transportation sector, and is the most widely recognized gauge of the American transportation sector...

 stock market index for the New York Stock Exchange
New York Stock Exchange
The New York Stock Exchange is a stock exchange located at 11 Wall Street in Lower Manhattan, New York City, USA. It is by far the world's largest stock exchange by market capitalization of its listed companies at 13.39 trillion as of Dec 2010...

 (NYSE) was created in 1884, Western Union was one of the original eleven all-American companies tracked.

By 1900 Western Union operated a million miles of telegraph lines and two international cable
Cable
A cable is two or more wires running side by side and bonded, twisted or braided together to form a single assembly. In mechanics cables, otherwise known as wire ropes, are used for lifting, hauling and towing or conveying force through tension. In electrical engineering cables are used to carry...

s.

20th century

The company continued to grow, acquiring more than 500 smaller competitors. Its monopoly power was almost complete in 1943 when it bought Postal Telegraph, Inc., its chief rival.

In 1914 Western Union offered the first charge card
Charge card
A charge card is a card that provides an alternative payment to cash when making purchases in which the issuer and the cardholder enter into an agreement that the debt incurred on the charge account will be paid in full and by due date or be subject to severe late fees and restrictions on card...

 for consumers; in 1923 it introduced teletypewriters to join its branches. Singing telegram
Singing telegram
A singing telegram is a message that is delivered by an artist in a musical form. Singing telegrams are historically linked to normal telegrams, but tend to be humorous. Sometimes the artist is in costume or formal clothing. Singing telegrams are often given as a gift.Western Union, the American...

s followed in 1933, intercity fax
Fax
Fax , sometimes called telecopying, is the telephonic transmission of scanned printed material , normally to a telephone number connected to a printer or other output device...

 in 1935, and commercial intercity microwave
Microwave
Microwaves, a subset of radio waves, have wavelengths ranging from as long as one meter to as short as one millimeter, or equivalently, with frequencies between 300 MHz and 300 GHz. This broad definition includes both UHF and EHF , and various sources use different boundaries...

 communications in 1943. In 1958, it began offering Telex service to customers in New York City. Western Union introduced the 'Candygram' in the 1960s, a box of chocolates accompanying a telegram featured in a commercial with the rotund Don Wilson
Don Wilson (announcer)
Don Wilson was an American announcer and occasional actor in radio and television, with a Falstaffian vocal presence, remembered best as the rotund announcer and comic foil to the star of The Jack Benny Program.-Career:...

. In 1964, Western Union initiated a transcontinental microwave system to replace land lines.

During World War II, families of sons in the military service dreaded the Western Union "boy on his bicycle" to arrive at their home with a telegram from the War Department
War Department
War Department may refer to:* War Department * United States Department of War - See also :* War Office , a former department of the British Government...

 or the Navy Department. The message began: The Secretary of War (soldiers and airmen) or Secretary of Navy (sailors and marines), regrets to inform you that, (name, rank and serial number of the man in the military service) was killed in action or missing in action.

Western Union became the first American telecommunications corporation
Corporation
A corporation is created under the laws of a state as a separate legal entity that has privileges and liabilities that are distinct from those of its members. There are many different forms of corporations, most of which are used to conduct business. Early corporations were established by charter...

 to maintain its own fleet of geosynchronous communication satellites, starting in 1974. The fleet of satellites, called Westar
Westar
Westar was the name for the fleet of geosynchronous communications satellites operating in the C band which were launched by Western Union from 1974 to 1984. There were seven Westar satellites in all, with five of them launched and operating under the Westar name.In many international recognized...

, carried communications within the Western Union company for telegram and mailgram
Mailgram
A mailgram is a type of telegraphic message which is transmitted electronically from the sender to a post office and then printed and delivered to the recipient via postal means.In the United States, the Western Union Company started mailgram service in 1970...

 message data to Western Union bureaus nationwide. It also handled traffic for its Telex
Telex
Telex may refer to:* Telex , , a communications network** Teleprinter, the device used on the above network* Telex , a Belgian pop group...

 and TWX
TWX
TWX may refer to:* Teletypewriter eXchange , a telegraphy system.* Time Warner's stock ticker symbol....

 (Telex II
Telex II
Telex II is the later name for the TWX teletypewriter network, which was originally founded & established by AT&T. It was later acquired from AT&T by Western Union, who renamed it Telex II....

) services. The Westar satellite
Satellite
In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object which has been placed into orbit by human endeavour. Such objects are sometimes called artificial satellites to distinguish them from natural satellites such as the Moon....

s' transponders were also leased by other companies for relaying video
Video
Video is the technology of electronically capturing, recording, processing, storing, transmitting, and reconstructing a sequence of still images representing scenes in motion.- History :...

, voice
Voice message
Voice message refers to a message that could be sent to a destination using voice media. Voice itself could be 'packaged' and sent through the IP backbone so that it reaches its marked 'address'. In a technical sense, the process of sending 'voice packets' is a semi passive way of communication...

, data
Data
The term data refers to qualitative or quantitative attributes of a variable or set of variables. Data are typically the results of measurements and can be the basis of graphs, images, or observations of a set of variables. Data are often viewed as the lowest level of abstraction from which...

, and facsimile (fax) transmissions.

In 1963 Western Union organized its international cable system properties and its right-of-way for connecting international telegraph lines into a separate company called Western Union International (WUI) which it divested that year to American Securities . In 1983 American Securities sold WUI to MCI Communications
MCI Communications
MCI Communications Corp. was an American telecommunications company that was instrumental in legal and regulatory changes that led to the breakup of the AT&T monopoly of American telephony and ushered in the competitive long-distance telephone industry. It was headquartered in Washington,...

 which renamed it to MCI International and moved its headquarters from New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 to Rye Brook, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

.

In the 1970s WUI installed and leased to the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) dedicated 50 Kbps high speed telecommunications facilities between the continental U.S. and Hawaii, Germany and the United Kingdom to provide a test bed for the DOD's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). This test bed provided ARPA with a proof of concept for the technology of packet switching which later became the Internet.

In 1981 Western Union purchased a fifty percent interest in Airfone
Airfone
Airfone is a brand of air-ground radiotelephone service offered by Verizon. Airfone allows passengers to make telephone calls in-flight. It was originated by John D. Goeken in the 1970s. Western Union purchased a fifty percent share in Airfone in 1981 and sold to GTE in 1986 for $39 million cash...

. It sold Airfone to GTE
GTE
GTE Corporation, formerly General Telephone & Electronics Corporation was the largest independent telephone company in the United States during the days of the Bell System....

 for $39 million in cash.

Due to declining profits and mounting debts, Western Union slowly began to divest itself of telecommunications-based assets starting in the early 1980s. Due to deregulation at the time, Western Union began sending money outside the country, re-inventing itself as "The fastest way to send money worldwide" and expanding its agent locations internationally.

In 1987, Investor Bennett S. LeBow
Bennett S. LeBow
Bennett S. LeBow is a financier and corporate raider. He is also the former Chairman of the Board and CEO of Borders Group, an international bookseller based in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Chairman of the Board of Vector Group, a holding company primarily involved in the manufacturing of cigarette...

 acquired control of Western Union through an outside of chapter 11 process that was a complex leveraged recapitalization. The transaction was backed by a total of $900 million in high yield bonds and preferred stock underwritten by Michael Milken
Michael Milken
Michael Robert Milken is an American business magnate, financier, and philanthropist noted for his role in the development of the market for high-yield bonds during the 1970s and 1980s, for his 1990 guilty plea to felony charges for violating US securities laws, and for his funding of medical...

's group at Drexel Burnham Lambert
Drexel Burnham Lambert
Drexel Burnham Lambert was a major Wall Street investment banking firm, which first rose to prominence and then was forced into bankruptcy in February 1990 by its involvement in illegal activities in the junk bond market, driven by Drexel employee Michael Milken. At its height, it was the...

 as part of an exchange offer. LeBow installed Robert J. Amman as President and CEO who led a complete strategic, operational and balance sheet restructuring of the company over the subsequent 6 years.

Mr. Amman executed a strategy of redirecting Western Union from being an asset-based provider of communications services, with a money transfer business as a large but less important part of the business, into being a provider of consumer-based money transfer financial services. In so doing, Mr. Amman ran the company as 2 separate companies. One business consisted of the money transfer business, which was funded and operated to take advantage of the significant growth opportunity. The second unit consisted of all the non-strategic communications assets such as the long distance analog voice network, satellite business and undersea cable assets. In the 3 year period through 1990 Mr. Amman was supported by Robert A. Schriesheim, also installed by Mr. LeBow, as a special advisor who oversaw the divestiture of the 4 non-strategic telecommunications assets for about $280 million.

The official name of the corporation was changed to New Valley Corporation in 1991, just in time for that entity to seek bankruptcy protection as part of Mr. Amman's strategy to eliminate the overleveraged balance sheet while continuing to grow the money transfer business . The name change was taken to shield the Western Union name from being dragged through the proceedings (and the bad PR that would cause). Under the day to day leadership of Robert J. Amman and the backing of LeBow
Bennett S. LeBow
Bennett S. LeBow is a financier and corporate raider. He is also the former Chairman of the Board and CEO of Borders Group, an international bookseller based in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Chairman of the Board of Vector Group, a holding company primarily involved in the manufacturing of cigarette...

, the company's value increased dramatically through its years operating under chapter 11.

Following various restructurings that included negotiations with Carl Icahn who became a large bond holder, Mr. Amman engineered the sale of New Valley in a bankruptcy auction to First Financial Management Corporation in 1994 for $1.2 billion where he became vice chairman, and a year later merged with First Data Corporation in a $6 billion transaction. On January 26, 2006, First Data Corporation announced plans to spin Western Union off as an independent, publicly traded company. Western Union's focus will remain money transfers. The next day, Western Union announced that it would cease offering telegram transmission and delivery, the product most associated with the company throughout its history. This was, however, not the original Western Union telegram service, but a new service of First Data under the Western Union banner; the original telegram service was sold off after New Valley Corporation's bankruptcy and now operates as iTelegram
ITelegram
International Telegram or iTelegram provides telegram service through its international telex/cablegram network. Service began in 1974 after Bahrain Post's exit from the electronic messaging industry. iTelegram is owned by Bahrain Telecom and has head offices in Bahrain and Mexico.-External links:* *...

.

The spin off was completed in September and Western Union is now an independent, publicly traded company.

Involvement in early computer networking

Western Union telegrams were transmitted through a store and forward
Store and forward
Store and forward is a telecommunications technique in which information is sent to an intermediate station where it is kept and sent at a later time to the final destination or to another intermediate station. The intermediate station, or node in a networking context, verifies the integrity of...

 message switching system.
Early versions were manual telegraph systems. Later systems using teleprinter
Teleprinter
A teleprinter is a electromechanical typewriter that can be used to communicate typed messages from point to point and point to multipoint over a variety of communication channels that range from a simple electrical connection, such as a pair of wires, to the use of radio and microwave as the...

s were semi-automatic, using punched paper tape to receive, store, and retransmit messages. Plan 55-A
Plan 55-A
Plan 55-A was a store and forward message switching system developed by Western Union and used from 1948 to 1976. Western Union's own system handled telegrams, and a military version of the system was used by the U.S...

, Western Union's last paper tape based switching system (1948–1976), was fully automatic, with automatic routing.

Western Union was a prime contractor in the Automatic Digital Network (AUTODIN)
Automatic Digital Network
The Automatic Digital Network System, known as AUTODIN or ADNS, is a legacy data communications service in the United States Department of Defense...

 program. AUTODIN, a military application for communication, was first developed in the 1960s and became the precursor to the modern Internet
Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

 in the 1990s. The Defense Message System (DMS)
Defense Message System
The Defense Message System or Defense Messaging System is a deployment of secure electronic mail and directory services in the United States Department of Defense...

 replaced AUTODIN in 2000.

AUTODIN, originally named "ComLogNet", was a highly reliable service that operated at 99.99% availability, using mechanical punched card
Punched card
A punched card, punch card, IBM card, or Hollerith card is a piece of stiff paper that contains digital information represented by the presence or absence of holes in predefined positions...

 readers and tab machines to send and receive data over leased line
Leased line
A leased line is a service contract between a provider and a customer, whereby the provider agrees to deliver a symmetric telecommunications line connecting two or more locations in exchange for a monthly rent . It is sometimes known as a 'Private Circuit' or 'Data Line' in the UK or as CDN in Italy...

s. During the peak operation of AUTODIN, the United States portion of the network handled twenty million messages a month. Western Union failed in its attempts to engineer a replacement (AUTODIN II), leading to the development of an acceptable packet-switched network by BBN
BBN Technologies
BBN Technologies is a high-technology company which provides research and development services. BBN is based next to Fresh Pond in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA...

 (the developer of the ARPANET
ARPANET
The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network , was the world's first operational packet switching network and the core network of a set that came to compose the global Internet...

) which became the foundation of today's Internet. AUTODIN service ceased in 2000, years after it had become obsolete.

A related innovation that came from AUTODIN was Western Union's computer based EasyLink service. This system allowed for one of the first marketable email
Email
Electronic mail, commonly known as email or e-mail, is a method of exchanging digital messages from an author to one or more recipients. Modern email operates across the Internet or other computer networks. Some early email systems required that the author and the recipient both be online at the...

 systems for non-government users. In addition, the system allowed the same message to be sent simultaneously to multiple recipients via email, fax, mailgram, or telex services; as well as receive messages from the integrated formats. With the service, users could also perform research utilizing its InfoLink application. EasyLink Services is now its own company.

End of telegrams

As of February 2006, the Western Union website showed this notice:

"Effective 2006-01-27, Western Union will discontinue all Telegram and Commercial Messaging services. We regret any inconvenience this may cause you, and we thank you for your loyal patronage. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact a customer service representative."


This ended the era of telegrams which began in 1851 with the founding of the New York and Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company, and which spanned 155 years of continuous service. Western Union reported that telegrams sent had fallen to a total of 20,000 a year, due to competition from other communication services such as email. Employees had been informed of the decision in mid-January.

Telegram service in the United States continues to be available through iTelegram
ITelegram
International Telegram or iTelegram provides telegram service through its international telex/cablegram network. Service began in 1974 after Bahrain Post's exit from the electronic messaging industry. iTelegram is owned by Bahrain Telecom and has head offices in Bahrain and Mexico.-External links:* *...

 and other companies.

Acquisitions

In May 2009, Western Union announced their intention to acquire Custom House
Custom House (global payments)
Custom House, a Western Union Company, is a foreign exchange and global payments provider based in Victoria, BC, Canada. Operating more than 80 offices in seven countries, Custom House has grown to become North America’s largest independent foreign exchange dealer, handling more than $15 billion...

 from Peter Gustavson. The deal closed in September 2009, with Western Union purchasing Custom House for $370 million USD. Its acquisition led the company to be re-branded as Western Union Business Solutions.

In July 2011, Western Union acquired Travelex's Global Business Payments division for £
Pound sign
The pound sign is the symbol for the pound sterling—the currency of the United Kingdom . The same symbol is used for similarly named currencies in some other countries and territories, such as the Irish pound, Gibraltar pound, Australian pound and the Italian lira...

606 Million.

Online

Western Union's website, westernunion.com, allows users to send and receive funds to others, pay bills, or purchase gift cards.

The domain westernunion.com attracted at least 8.7 million visitors annually by 2008 according to a Compete.com
Compete.com
Compete.com is a web traffic analysis service of Compete, Inc. which operates in the United States and publishes the approximate number of global visitors to the top 1,000,000 web sites in the world...

 study.

BidPay

As the Internet became an arena for commerce at the turn of the millennium, Western Union started its online services. BidPay was renamed "Western Union Auction Payments" in 2004 before being renamed back to BidPay. BidPay ceased operations on December 31, 2005, and was purchased for US$1.8 million in March 2006 by CyberSource Corp. who announced their intention to re-launch BidPay. BidPay was later discontinued by CyberSource effective December 31, 2007.

Western Union Mobile

In October 2007, Western Union announced plans to introduce a mobile money transfer service with the GSM Association
GSM Association
The GSM Association is an association of mobile operators and related companies devoted to supporting the standardizing, deployment and promotion of the GSM mobile telephone system...

, a global trade association representing more than 700 mobile operators in 218 countries and covering 2.5 billion mobile subscribers.

The proliferation of mobile phones in developed and developing economies provides a widely accessible consumer device capable of delivering mobile financial services ranging from text notifications associated with Western Union cash delivery services to phone-based remittance options. Western Union's mobile money transfer service offering will connect its core money transfer platform to m-bank or m-wallet platforms provided by mobile operators and / or locally regulated financial institutions.

Sending and receiving funds

In order to send funds, a sender goes to a Western Union office and presents funds (plus fees) for "Next Day" or "Money in Minutes" service. A sender provides his or her name and address, the recipient's name, and a designated payment destination. Western Union then provides the sender a 10-digit Money Transfer Control Number (MTCN) that must be transmitted separately by the sender to the recipient. The recipient then proceeds to a Western Union agent office in the designated payment location, presents the 10-digit MTCN, and a photo ID. Money is then paid out to the recipient. If a recipient lacks identification documents, the sender and receiver can set up a pre-arranged password. Funds are paid out in cash, although if payment exceeds a local maximum or cash on hand, a check is issued. Alternatively, a sender may forward funds online to a recipient by using Western Union's online site, westernunion.com.

Transfer fees

Fees differ based on originating and receiver countries and type of transfer. Generally, fees are less if using the website rather than using a partner agent location.

Past services

Along with satellite telecommunications, Western Union was also active in other forms of telecommunication services:
  • Common carrier
    Common carrier
    A common carrier in common-law countries is a person or company that transports goods or people for any person or company and that is responsible for any possible loss of the goods during transport...

     terrestrial microwave networks
  • Business communications networks such as Telex and TWX, which was acquired from AT&T
    AT&T
    AT&T Inc. is an American multinational telecommunications corporation headquartered in Whitacre Tower, Dallas, Texas, United States. It is the largest provider of mobile telephony and fixed telephony in the United States, and is also a provider of broadband and subscription television services...

     and renamed Telex II by Western Union
  • Landline-based leased voice and data communication circuits
  • Long distance telephone service
  • Airfone air-ground radiotelephone service from 1981 to 1986
  • Cellular phone service for a very short time in the early 1980s (the phones were made by 2-way radio manufacturer E.F. Johnson Company)

Sponsorship

Western Union was a major Jersey sponsor of the Sydney Roosters
Sydney Roosters
The Sydney Roosters are an Australian professional rugby league football club based in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. The club competes in the National Rugby League and is one of the oldest and most successful clubs in Australian rugby league history, having won twelve New South Wales Rugby League...

 NRL
National Rugby League
The National Rugby League is the top league of professional rugby league football clubs in Australasia. The NRL's main competition, called the Telstra Premiership , is contested by sixteen teams, fifteen of which are based in Australia with one based in New Zealand...

 team from 2002–2003. The company still sponsors the team, but not as a jersey sponsor. Around the world, Western Union sponsors numerous community events that help support the diaspora communities that use the global Money Transfer service.

The First Data Western Union Foundation donates money to charitable causes around the world. After the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami
2004 Indian Ocean earthquake
The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake was an undersea megathrust earthquake that occurred at 00:58:53 UTC on Sunday, December 26, 2004, with an epicentre off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. The quake itself is known by the scientific community as the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake...

, the Foundation donated US$1,000,000 to the relief effort.

Scam industry

Western Union advises its customers not to send money to someone that they have never met in person. Despite its efforts in increasing customers' awareness of the issue, Western Union is used for internet fraud
Internet fraud
Internet fraud refers to the use of Internet services to present fraudulent solicitations to prospective victims, to conduct fraudulent transactions, or to transmit the proceeds of fraud to financial institutions or to others connected with the scheme....

 by scammers.

Western Union has been required to maintain records of pay-out locations of the individuals who may be launder
Money laundering
Money laundering is the process of disguising illegal sources of money so that it looks like it came from legal sources. The methods by which money may be laundered are varied and can range in sophistication. Many regulatory and governmental authorities quote estimates each year for the amount...

ing the money, though this information may only be obtained through the use of a subpoena
Subpoena
A subpoena is a writ by a government agency, most often a court, that has authority to compel testimony by a witness or production of evidence under a penalty for failure. There are two common types of subpoena:...

. Hence advance-fee fraud and romance scam
Romance scam
A romance scam is a confidence trick involving feigned romantic intentions towards a victim, gaining their affection, and then using that goodwill to commit fraud...

mers continue to receive funds via Western Union confident in the knowledge that money lost to overseas scammers is almost always unrecoverable. For this reason it is banned as a medium of payment through eBay
EBay
eBay Inc. is an American internet consumer-to-consumer corporation that manages eBay.com, an online auction and shopping website in which people and businesses buy and sell a broad variety of goods and services worldwide...

.

Connection to military intelligence

There are allegations that Western Union provided United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 military intelligence
Military intelligence
Military intelligence is a military discipline that exploits a number of information collection and analysis approaches to provide guidance and direction to commanders in support of their decisions....

 with personal information.

Blocked transactions

Western Union has begun blocking transactions based on suspicion of terrorist connections, as a part of the company's involvement with the War on Terror
War on Terror
The War on Terror is a term commonly applied to an international military campaign led by the United States and the United Kingdom with the support of other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as well as non-NATO countries...

. Currently, transfers sent from the Western Union web site require telephone confirmation of the sender's identity. On occasion, the transfer will fail and Western Union's customer service will inform the sender that the transaction "does not meet our requirements." If details are requested, no information other than the fact that their disclosure is forbidden will be given. Numerous customers have reported this problem.

Presidents of the company

  • Hiram Sibley
    Hiram Sibley
    Hiram Sibley , was an industrialist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist.Sibley was born in North Adams, Massachusetts, and later resided in Rochester, New York. He became interested in the work of Samuel Morse involving the telegraph.In 1840, he joined with Morse and Ezra Cornell to create a...

     (1856–1866)
  • Jeptha Wade
    Jeptha Wade
    Jeptha Homer Wade was an American industrialist, philanthropist, and one of the founding members of Western Union Telegraph....

     (1866–1867)
  • William Orton (1867–1878)
  • Norvin Green (1878–1893)
  • Thomas Eckert
    Thomas Eckert
    Thomas T. Eckert was an officer in the U.S. Army, Chief of the War Department Telegraph Staff from 1862–1867, United States Assistant Secretary of War from 1865–1867 and an executive at Western Union.-Eckert's Early Life:...

     (1893–1902)
  • Robert Clowry (1902–1910)
  • Theodore Vail (1910–1914)
  • Newcomb Carlton (1914–1933)
  • Roy White (1933–1941)
  • Albert Williams (1941–)
  • Walter P. Marshall (1948–1964)
  • Russell McFall (1965–1979)
  • Robert Flanagan (1979–1984)
  • Roland Berner (1984)
  • Robert Leventhal (1984–1988)
  • Robert Amman (1988–1994)

...
  • Alan Silberstein (2000–2001)

...
  • Christina Gold (2006–2010)
  • Hikmet Ersek (2010–)

See also

  • 60 Hudson Street
    60 Hudson Street
    60 Hudson Street is a major telecommunications facility and an historic landmark located in Lower Manhattan, New York City, not far from the World Trade Center. The art deco brick structure was designed by Ralph Thomas Walker of Voorhees, Gmelin and Walker and opened in 1930...

     – Former headquarters
  • 92 Code
    92 Code
    The 92 Code was first adopted by Western Union in 1859. The reason for this adoption was to reduce bandwidth usage over the telegraph lines and speed transmissions by utilizing a numerical code system for various frequently used phrases....

  • Pangram
    Pangram
    A pangram , or holoalphabetic sentence, is a sentence using every letter of the alphabet at least once. Pangrams have been used to display typefaces, test equipment, and develop skills in handwriting, calligraphy, and keyboarding...

     – The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. Used by WU to test teleprinters.
  • Pennsylvania v. New York
    Pennsylvania v. New York
    Pennsylvania v. New York, were two cases which were heard in 1972 before the U.S. Supreme Court. The initial filing was allowed at 407 U.S. 206 and the final decision was ordered at 407 U.S. 223 ....

    — Question before the U.S. Supreme Court: when Western Union Money orders are supposed to escheat
    Escheat
    Escheat is a common law doctrine which transfers the property of a person who dies without heirs to the crown or state. It serves to ensure that property is not left in limbo without recognised ownership...

     to the state if not fully redeemed, what state is to get the money?
  • Western Union, 1939 schooner chartered by Western Union Telegraph Company, used in film as slave ship La Amistad

Further reading

  • Wolff, Joshua D., “‘The Great Monopoly’: Western Union and the American Telegraph, 1845–1893” (PhD dissertation, Columbia University, 2008).

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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