Western Union is a US invention. It has served the mailing needs of US citizens for over a century. Today, it is mainly limited to the money transfer service. And you can not beat the price. For a small money transfer, the transfer fee is very reasonable. The fee is about 10% of the amount you are intending to wire. In other words, if you are sending under 200$ the fee is about 15$. Compare with the bank wire transfer fees: 20$ flat fee regardless of the amount you wire. Price is not the only convenience of Western Union. Also, it is very easy to do. You can drop by a Western Union location and write down your name and address and the name and address of the receiver. They need to know the country and the town of the receiver in order to make the money available there. For many people Western Union is the preferred method to wire money to families overseas, because no one needs a bank account to do that.
Western Union in Korea is in a whole new style. In order to transfer money I was asked for my ID, US passport, work address, living address, two phone numbers, as well as the address of the recipient. The paperwork was taking quite a bit of time. I am not even sure how much of the information I provided was put into the computer. The bank clerk was very sorry that the process was taking so much time, and he said: “Next time if you choose to send money here, all this information will be here and it will be much faster.”
Again, my thought was – how much easier it is for immigrants in the US to transfer their savings back home.