Nick LeCuyer is the vice president of strategy and distribution at Western Union Digital. He holds an MBA from the University of Michigan and a BSE in civil engineering from Princeton University and had more than 13 years of experience in corporate strategy as well as consulting. In this interview, Nick talks about the role of mobile in Western Union and the company’s business model and gives us detailed insights into the future of mobile payment services.
Sramana Mitra: Nick, let’s start with setting some context about yourself as well as what you are doing at Western Union Digital in the domain of mobile and social technologies.
Nick LeCuyer: I have been with Western Union for about five years. My current role is being part of the leadership team of our digital division. For the digital division, I look after two of our key functions. I look after all of our strategy and planning, and all of our third-party distribution. What I mean by third-party distribution is how to partner with other companies and entities that help distribute Western Union money transfers to our consumers on a global basis – obviously in a digital context. That makes sense when you think about Western Union. We are a fundamentally branded network in terms of what the company does. In the retail channel, our role is to operate and grow the network. We are just translating the same concept into the digital realm.
SM: Given that context, let’s talk about how you are taking advantage of mobile and social technologies and what are some of the key trends that you observe and are reacting to.
NL: If we think about mobile as a channel, it is just a fabulous opportunity. Mobile is ubiquitous and highly convenient – consumers carry their mobile phones with them all the time, and in many cases we find they have their mobile devices by their beds, so literally 24/7.
PCs were the first round of digital convenience, where you could interact with financial services as home, for example. That didn’t help you though when you were out in the world. The great thing about mobile is that it is with consumers all the time, whether they are at work, on the bus, or wherever they might be. With that in mind, we first started looking at mobile as a channel for money transfer. From a planning perspective, we started looking at that in 2007–2008. The first commercial program began in 2009. The goal is simple. We want to make sure that any consumer who wishes to access Western Union’s money transfer services through his or her mobile device is able to do so. That is a big goal, because we are a global company and there are seven billion people on the planet in more than 200 countries. We have a ways to go until that is true for every consumer on the planet. But we feel like we have had a good start.
SM: In the mobile payment world, there is a lot going on right now. I am sure you are tracking all these trends. On the one hand, there is peer-to-peer money transfer going on. Also in Africa, for example, mobile banking has become the primary banking channel, right?