Western Union goes digital with electronic payments platform

Summary:Joining the rest of us in 2012, Western Union is debuting its own electronic payments platform.

Although it is probably known more for its brick-and-mortar locations to transfer money, Western Union is finally going digital.

The wire transfer service has debuted WU Pay, an electronic payments platform that enables U.S. consumers to pay for online purchases from one of two ways.

After checking out and receiving a bill via email, online shoppers can either pay directly online using their existing bank accounts, or they can return to the Western Union agent locations pay in cash -- no financial information required.

One of the incentives for paying with an existing bank account online instead of just using a debit card (considering that sounds like the same thing), WU Pay also has a cash back rewards program.

That's certainly a new and more unique option for paying for online purchases. It certainly fits in with Western Union's trademarks of being able to pay in person at one of its more than 44,000 locations nationwide with cash only. It's still questionable whether or not such online purchases can then be traceable.

Nevertheless, major retailers seem very open to this new option already. WU Pay is already available as a payment option on hundreds of online stores, such as Sears, Kmart, Buy.com, and Tiger Direct, among others. Shoppers can also use this method to pay for over 60 virtual gift cards, including Amazon and The Home Depot.

To further entice merchants, Western Union is also touting WU Pay as "a lower-price option compared to other e-payment alternatives currently available."

WU Pay was made possible through Western Union's recent acquisition of the eBillme platform.

Related:

Topics: Banking, Amazon, Apps, Tablets

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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