Thursday, February 26, 2009

Will WooGroup Succeed in Taking on Western Union?

A new challenger to Western Union recently emerged in the money transfer area.

The WooGroup, based in Paris, was recently listed on the Paris stock exchange (Nyse Euronext, ticker MLWOO). After a somewhat chaotic start – the listing was postponed a week following liquidity problems by Europe Finance et Industry, tasked to manage the introduction – the company came into play on January 28th. By proposing low cost money transfer services, it aims to compete with the industry heavy weights, and most notably Western Union, by proposing self-service money transfer kiosks (a sort of an advanced ATM) in combination with prepaid cards, e-wallets and mobile phone services. It plans to develop its first money transfer corridor between the US and Mexico, followed by other high-traffic corridors such as Europe – Morocco.

Philippe Erb, the WooGroup’s CEO, made his fame as a professional day trader under the nick-name “The Player”. So far trading in the new stock has been virtually non-existent, and it will be interesting to see if The Player will succeed in changing the game in the money transfer industry. More to follow on the WooGroup and this industry in future blog posts.