Western Union

January 24, 2006 09:15 ET

Russian Post to Offer Western Union Money Transfer Service

DENVER and MOSCOW--(CCNMatthews - Jan 24, 2006) -

Western Union, a worldwide leader in money transfer services, announced that its subsidiary Western Union MT East has entered into an agreement with Russian national postal operator Federal State Unitary Enterprise, known as "Russian Post," to provide international money transfer services. Russian Post has one of the largest branch networks in Russia comprising more than 40,000 outlets. Through this agreement, Western Union Money Transfer® Services will be available in up to 2,500 post office outlets across Russia serving both rural and urban populations.

"The addition of the Russian Postal network attests to Western Union's commitment to offer fast, reliable services where our customers work, shop and live. With more than 250,000 Agent locations worldwide, Western Union is dedicated to expanding its international reach to enable consumers to stay connected with their loved ones," said Christina Gold, president, Western Union Financial Services Inc.

The agreement offers Western Union's Russian customers a substantial benefit and convenient access to Western Union's Money Transfer services, while Russian Post will increase its geography of international money transfers from CIS and Baltic countries to the entire Western Union worldwide network.

Russian Post is the national postal operator and leader in the Russian intra money transfer market. It has one of the largest branch networks in Russia, comprised of 85 branches with more than 40,000 outlets. With its origins dating more than 500 years, Russian Post is one of the oldest postal organisations in Europe. Russian Post was established in its current form in 2003. This new cooperation will help increase Western Union's brand recognition across this vast country though an institution familiar to all Russian residents.

"We are pleased to add 2,500 Russian Post locations to the Western Union MT East network bringing us to a total of more than 30,000 locations across Eastern Europe and CIS countries, providing the migrant workers in this region with a convenient means to support their loved ones left at home," said Kurt Marx, President Western Union MT East and Regional Vice President, Western Union, Eastern Europe.

In recent years, Russia has become more actively involved in international migration. As increasing numbers of Russians move abroad for education and jobs, the territory of Russia has, at the same time, become economically attractive for migrants from countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), as well as Asia and Africa(1). This increased emigration into Russia has resulted in a gradual transition of the Russian remittance market from a predominantly inbound country to one that is now predominately outbound. Based on figures published by the IMF in 2003, US$3.6 Billion was sent abroad from Russia by migrant workers, with US$1.7 Billion being sent home by Russians working overseas(2).

About Western Union and First Data

First Data Corp. (NYSE:FDC) is a leading provider of electronic commerce and payment solutions for businesses and consumers worldwide. Serving 4.1 million merchant locations, 1,500 card issuers and millions of consumers, First Data powers the global economy by making it easy, fast and secure for people and businesses around the world to buy goods and services using virtually any form of payment. The company's portfolio of services and solutions includes credit, debit, private-label, smart and stored-value card issuing and merchant transaction processing services; money transfer services; money orders; fraud protection and authentication solutions; check guarantee and verification services through TeleCheck; as well as Internet commerce and mobile solutions. Western Union and its subsidiary, Orlandi Valuta, together make up one of the world's largest money transfer networks with approximately 250,000 Agent locations in more than 200 countries and territories. The company's STAR Network offers PIN-secured debit acceptance at approximately 1.9 million ATM and retail locations. For more information, visit www.firstdata.com.

About Western Union MT East

Western Union MT East, Ltd. is a 100% subsidiary of Western Union Financial Services Inc., this non-credit banking organization that was founded in 1991. The company provides fast Money Transfer® services. Currently more than one third of Russian banks are Agent partners of MT East. As of December 2005, Western Union Money Transfer services are available at more than 4,000 locations across Russia and more than 18,000 locations across the entire CIS region. For more information, please visit the company's Web site at www.westernunion.com.

(1) Leonid Rybakovsky & Sergey Ryazantsev, International Migration in the Russian Federation (2005), Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations Secretariat.

(2) Based on figures extracted from the Balance of Payments Statistics Yearbook (2004), International Monetary Fund.

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