Western Union Gets Into Online Payments, Launches PayNearMe Competitor WU Pay

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Money transfer service Western Union is launching a new online payments platform, called WU Pay, that allows consumers to pay for goods online by using your bank’s online bill pay service (similar to the way you pay a utility or credit card bill), or at a Western Union location in the U.S.

Here’s how it works. Shoppers can choose to pay with WU Pay at an online retailer’s checkout page, and the order is confirmed with a bill sent to their e-mail address. Consumers pay the bill the same way they pay utilities, loans, insurance, and other bills, either through their online bank account or at one of over 44,000 Western Union money transfer locations in the U.S.

The new service, which is powered by the company’s 2011 acquisition of eBillMe, is already available as a payment option though a number of retail sites, including Sears, Kmart, Buy.com, Tiger Direct, RedCats USA and others. The payment option can also be used to purchase over 60 gift cards including Amazon, jcpenney, The Home Depot, Dell, American Airlines and others.

The payments platform is similar in a lot of ways to PayNearMe, an alternative payments product from the company formerly known as Kwedit, which provides a way for the ‘unbanked’ to use cash payments for online goods. With PayNearMe, you pay cash at your local 7-Eleven store.

These types of services are especially compelling for the millions of U.S. consumers who are unbanked, and who don’t have traditional bank accounts or cannot qualify for credit cards.