During a recent spot on Bloomberg TV Western Union CEO Hikmet Ersek mentioned the possibility of integrating the cryptocurrency Bitcoin into the world’s largest money transferring service.
During the interview, host Trish Regan asked Ersek how he feels on the threat of Bitcoin to Western Union’s operations, focusing on the low costs of transferring Bitcoin, as opposed to traditional currencies through Western Union. What Ersek then said came as surprise to Regan.
“We [Western Union] pay out in 121 currencies. When customers want us, they pay in 121 currencies. If it is a proper currency, why not we should also use Bitcoin?” Western Union CEO Hikmet Ersek stated when asked on the threat of Bitcoin.
Ersek went on further, stating that if and when Bitcoin is to be recognized as a currency and is regulated by a regulator recognized by Western Union, only then the company would consider adding it to its supported currencies.
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“If it [Bitcoin] is regulated as a currency, but it is not regulated as a currency. That is the issue of Bitcoin. We are a very regulated industry. When Bitcoin is regulated and the customer wants that, why not?” Ersek added.
This is not the first we are seeing large payment based firms discussing Bitcoin integration. This last May eBay CEO John Donahoe mentioned the firm is “actively considering” Bitcoin integration within PayPal. Similarly, as with Western Union, eBay is waiting to see how the digital tender will be regulated before adding support.
When Bitcoin was first introduced, one of its highlights was its integrated money transfer system. While payment companies have formed to accommodate and simplify support for Bitcoin, the larger firms still seem anxious.
A question arises from both Bitcoin enthusiasts and payment professionals alike when discussing mass adoption only once regulated. “What’s the point now?”