Western Union has long been synonymous with consumer money transfers, but Christina Gold, its president and chief executive officer, is determined to expand the company's repertoire deeper into the global payments space. Its latest deal, a $370 million acquisition of Custom House Ltd., a Canadian business-to-business payments outfit, gives Western Union 40,000 new business customers whose payments average $25,000 per transaction.
Though profits were down the past two quarters, Western Union generated more than $600 million in cash flow from operations in the first six months of 2009, and posted $1.3 billion in revenues for the most recent quarter, according to Gold. "While many other companies are cutting back and curtailing their investments right now," she says, "we're well-positioned to deliver on our strategic priorities."
One of those priorities for the money-transfer giant: mobile money transfers for consumers. Gold says that Western Union has seen "great progress this year" in its pilot program, particularly in traditionally underbanked countries like Kenya, where six million now conduct banking services through their mobile phones on Western Union's service.
A one-time president of Avon North America, Gold joined Western Union in 2002 from Excel Communications, where she was president and CEO. Stewart Stockdale, executive vice president and president of the Americas for Western Union, credits Gold for leading Western Union's worldwide growth and expansion into new channels, including banking and prepaid.