Qatar's first fully automated self-service kiosks will soon operate 24/7 in various locations to make international money transfer more convenient.
Western Union Middle East regional vice president Hatem Sleiman said that a total of 80 kiosks will go live in the next two weeks, allowing its customers to send money anytime to more than 200 countries and territories globally.
“We identified the locations, the kiosks are installed and now we are building our capability on these kiosks,” explained Sleiman, who was speaking at a press conference during the launch at the Marsa Malaz Kempinski, The Pearl-Qatar.
He was joined by Alfardan Exchange president Fahad Alfardan, general manager Bashar Mohamed al-Waqfi, Western Union’s senior vice president for finance Jeffrey Hochstadt, and Deyar Al Rawda (Al Maousherji Group) chairman and CEO Salah M al-Maousherji.
The kiosks are strategically placed in malls, banks, hospitals, government facilities, petrol stations, supermarkets, residential areas, and staff accommodations, among others, according to Sleiman.
Customers have the option to choose any of the delivery services, either cash-to-cash, direct to bank or send to mobile. These kiosks offer the same speed, reliability and ease-of-use as any other Western Union payment channel with the added advantage of 24/7 accessibility.
A one-time registration (free of charge) at any Alfardan Exchange location in the country is needed before sending money through the kiosks.
Sleiman said the remittance fee is lower compared to the rates at an exchange house. Compared to QR25 charged by the exchange houses, the kiosk charges QR15 for money transfers to the Philippines and India, countries which have two of the biggest expatriate communities in the country. The kiosks only accept Qatari riyal as part of a Qatar Central Bank regulation.
“Western Union’s cross-border platform enables an industry-leading pay-in, pay-out capability and the launch of money transfer kiosks in Qatar is part of our continuous efforts to provide consumers with additional options to send money,” he said.
According to Alfardan, the launch of the new kiosks provides their customers, mostly expatriates who regularly send money back home, with a new avenue for money transfer “that is extremely simple, easy to use, always accessible and at a convenient location close to their home or workplace.”
“Alfardan Exchange has a series of industry firsts in Qatar and our relationship with Western Union over the past four years has helped solidify our market leadership in terms of brand positioning and product value proposition,” he said.
Echoing the statement of Alfardan, al-Waqfi said that sending money through smart and user-friendly kiosks is a simple and straightforward process that can be completed in seconds. A clear step-by-step instruction appears on the screen to guide customers.
He said the kiosks are fully compliant with Qatar Central Bank regulations, especially with regard to “Know Your Customer/Anti-money Laundering” and other security standards.
Alfardan Exchange is the first financial house in Qatar to adopt computerised transfers and the first to fully prioritise customer care and service, al-Waqfi said.
How to make a Western Union money transfer using a kiosk
To start, customers need to complete a one-time registration at any Alfardan Exchange location in Qatar by presenting a valid Qatar ID. The customer service agent will then enter all the needed data into the system, retain a copy of the ID, and print a receipt for the customer to verify his or her personal information.
The customer will then receive a login ID and PIN by SMS on the registered mobile number, which needs to be used when making a money transfer at a kiosk.
When making a transfer by using the kiosk, select Western Union on the home screen, choose preferred language and enter login information (login ID, PIN and last two digits of your Alfardan Exchange registration number). Then follow the following steps:
1. Select desired service.
2. Select one beneficiary from list of receivers.
3. Choose the purpose of transaction.
4. Enter and review the transaction details.
5. Choose payment method.
6. Deposit the exact amount in multiples of QR1 or enter debit card details.
7. Pick up your receipt with the Money Transfer Control Number (MTCN) generated by the kiosk.
Consumers can locate the nearest kiosk by calling Western Union toll free number 00800100609. Funds may be delayed or services unavailable based on certain transaction conditions, including amount sent, destination country, currency availability, regulatory and foreign exchange issues, required receiver action(s), identification requirements, agent location hours, differences in time zones, or selection of delayed options. Additional restrictions may apply.