August 26, 2008
Crisis or no crisis...
...Western Union's Patricia Zamora-Riingen says Pinoys will keep sending money home. (Photo by Nonie Reyes)
ALTHOUGH Western Union has been around for about 20 years in the Philippines, the company formally set up shop in the country only in 2003, riding on the sudden explosion of remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
With the continued migration of Filipinos to better work opportunities abroad, inbound remittances are expected to continue their steady growth. The number of deployed Filipino workers jumped a significant 34 percent to 640,401 in the first half of 2008, according to preliminary data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration. Reflecting this, remittances in the first half grew by 17.2 percent to $8.24 billion from $7.34 billion in the same period last year, data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas showed.
In an exclusive interview with the BusinessMirror, Western Union’s vice president for the Philippines Patricia “Diday” Zamora-Riingen shares the directions the money-transfer firm is taking in the Philippines. Trained in the brand management marketing style pioneered by Procter and Gamble where she first worked upon graduation from the University of the Philippines with a Business Administration degree, Riingen has also been largely credited for boosting the domestic money transfer business of Western Union. Riingen also shares the new remittance products that will expectedly boost even more the company’s business among Filipinos here and abroad.
Me: So Western Union finally saw the need to open a real office here in 2003 because of the surging remittances from OFWs?
Ms. Riingen: The business was growing and they also saw the potential of the Philippine market at that time. The setup of Western Union in Asia-Pacific before, people would work out of their homes and as we grew, there was a need for an infrastructure already. (Click here for the rest of my chat with Ms. Riingen.)