Western Union transfers to AWS cloud

Western Union is the latest financial services form to set out a future in the Amazon Web Services cloud

Western Union is moving a large portion of its IT infrastructure to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud as part of its digital transformation, which includes a cloud-first ambition.

This is an important part of the cross-border payments company’s transformation, which will see it move from datacentres to a microservice architecture in the AWS public cloud.

“Our transition to the cloud will enable us to expand our digital footprint and work more efficiently as we evolve to meet the needs of our business and customers,” said Western Union CIO, Amit Sharma. “The elasticity and agility that AWS provides will enable us to transform the way we operate and become a cloud-first organisation.”

Western Union, whose customers can transfer money between around 200 countries and regions using mobile and online systems, will harness the cloud and microservices to add services to its platform.

For example, it can use Amazon PayCode, which enables customers in 21 countries to pay for Amazon purchases in local currency. “This omnichannel platform is just one of the strategic initiatives we will move forward with using the scalability and functionality of AWS to innovate,” added Sharma.

Western Union is also planning to use AWS machine learning, analytics, database, serverless, containers, and security services.

Western Union, like other traditional companies offering cross-border payments, faces increasing competition from a growing group of fintech remittance services. These include the likes of Azimo, which enables people to make cross border transactions in seconds via a smart phone app, and InstaReM, which has a smart phone app via which customers in different countries can swap money.

Using public cloud services and microservices architecture, traditional businesses can adopt agile development techniques and keep pace with the rapid changes being brought by fintechs.

For example, in 2014, Travelex, another remittance industry stalwart, launched a £25m digital growth fund to invest in finetch to support the development of products and services linked to mobile, payments, cryptocurrency and location technology.

This included investment in a cloud-based platform to support a four-year digital transformation. It recently launched Travelex Business, which uses application programming interfaces (APIs) to enable other financial services firms – such as banks, credit unions and retailers – to use its services. It has been made possible by the company’s move to the cloud, which, when complete, will see 95% of its estate there.

As part of this, it has also partnered with AWS to build a microservices-based setup to support the international payments business through creating new services and adapting existing ones.

Examples of traditional financial services businesses using the public cloud to develop were featured at the AWS London financial services event in September. This included investment bank Goldman Sachs and insurer Direct Line, both of which have launched completely new businesses in the AWS cloud.

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