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Global payment services provider Western Union Co. ((WU - Analyst Report)) announced that it has spread Online FX and Online FX for Mobile services in France, Germany, Ireland and Italy.

This facility will be available via Western Union Business Solutions (legacy Custom House), a line of service under Western Union’s Global Business Payments Segment.

Western Union Business Solutions offers international cross-border, cross-currency business-to-business payment solutions through various channels including the telephone and internet. The majority of Business Solutions’ business relates to exchange of currencies at the spot rate which enables customers to make cross-currency payments.

Online FX and Online FX for Mobile service expansion will make it simple for the small and medium enterprises in these regions to make payments to their suppliers anywhere anytime around the globe easily and conveniently. The customers will also have a wide choice of 140 different currencies. This service is already available in United Kingdom and the company is contemplating reaching out to other European countries.

Western Union finds the markets of France, Germany, Ireland and Italy attractive as imports into these countries are expected to grow at the average rate of 5.3% in 2011 as forecasted by the International Monetary Fund.

This move by Western Union reflects its long-term strategy to position itself firmly in the rapidly growing cross-border payments market for small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The company made a foray into this market by acquiring Custom House in 2009, which had more than 40,000 customers with payouts in 120 countries and in over 150 currencies. The acquisition made Western Union an instant player in the international business-to-business (B2B) payments market.

Western Union which is scheduled to report on October 25 after market-close is expected to post earnings of 39 cents as per the Zacks Consensus Estimate which would translate into an earnings growth of approximately 11.7%. The company closely competes with MoneyGram International, Inc. (MGI - Analyst Report) which is slated to release third quarter results on October 27.

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