Western Union Co. won’t add a cyrptocurrency transfer solution to its arsenal soon, said CEO Hikmet Ersek.
Speaking at the Economic Club of New York on Wednesday morning, the head of the money-transfer giant explained that customers firmly favor fiat currency over upstart digital counterparts due to the broad usability of cold, hard assets like cash.
“The consumers tell us what they want,” Ersek said. “People aren’t paying their hospital bills in cryptos,” he said.
Another reason why fiat currencies like the U.S. dollar
and the Japanese yen
will keep the upper hand over cryptos like Bitcoin
for now is that central banks are unlikely to give up control over their local tender to shift to a digital and decentralized alternative, the Western Union
Ultimately, “nations are built on flags, constitutions, borders and currencies,” he said, and no central bank home to a reserve currency would be willing to give that kind of control away.
Digital currencies came into existence in the aftermath of the 2007-09 financial crisis which was mitigated by a wave of easy-money policies enacted by the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and others. Proponents of cryptos tout a lack of government or central bank control as one of the chief benefits of digital assets.
Englewood, Colo.-based Western Union has been among a number of companies exploring the potential uses of cryptos like bitcoin and similar assets. In the past, Ersek has said the payments conduit was experimenting with using XRP coin
, the digital currency created by the financial-focused startup Ripple Inc., to facilitate its money-transfer business.