London-based Wise was launched in 2011 with the aim of making international money transfers cheaper and easier, while Western Union remains a market leader in remittances, with a sprawling global network of physical locations.
Their partnership with Google Pay, which has 150 million users in 40 countries, comes as the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a boom in online payments, but an estimated drop in overall remittances flows. The money migrant workers sent home is projected to have declined 14% from 2019 due to worsening economic conditions and employment levels in migrant-hosting countries, according to the latest estimates from the World Bank.
"Even with COVID a lot of people have relocated around the world and we wanted to focus on how we can help facilitate these payments," said Josh Woodward, director of product management at Google. "Our goal for this year is to work with Wise and Western Union to roll this out for the countries they support."
The Silicon Valley technology company redesigned its U.S. payments app in November, introducing paid promotions to the service and opening a waitlist for bank accounts being launched next with several lenders.
The new remittances functionality escalates competition among technology companies and traditional finance firms over consumers' money and data, with providers looking to become a one-stop shop for their users' financial needs.
Ant Group, Samsung Electronics Co, Apple Inc and PayPal Holdings Inc also offer mobile wallets aiming to be hubs for services ranging from crossborder payments to credit.
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