WU ecosystem

Western Union Messenger

  • Role: UX, Visual Design
  • Client: Senior UX Course
  • Team: Naheel Jawaid, Kae Ngo, Samantha Slinn, Chris Samuel
  • Year: 2015

Addressing the anxiety of overseas money transfer for migrant workers.

Western Union is struggling to stay relevant in a time where online banking and other money transfer apps has made transferring money overseas really easy. Money needs is something that comes organically in conversation, and currently communicating these needs in the current western union process is scattered with using calling cards or other platforms to relay information to the other person.

We wanted reposition Western Union from just being about payment to being about communication first. We’re leveraging its existing infrastructure for a competitive advantage over other messaging apps trying to integrate money transfer.

We focused specifically on the migrant worker who sends money back home to their families because they’re a growing group of users that are already using Western Union’s platform.

The Idea

A messaging app for migrant workers with money transfer seamlessly integrated into the background, so they can stay connected with their families and easily transfer money when the need arises.

Product Overview

WU Messenger ease of use

Money Transfer Integrated Into Conversation

We wanted money transfer to be integrated seamlessly into conversation, so we designed 3 different ways you can access money transfer.

  1. Automated links, similar to how iphones can detect when you text a date.
  2. Money button among the other attached media functions.
  3. Floating action button on the main contact page in case the user wants to access it right away.

Balancing Ease of Use with Security

We used familiar design patterns to make the experience feel light and less like a payment form. The process is designed in cards, where only what you need appears at a time. Geolocation is used to automatically input the currency, and a swipe code instead of a pin pad to make the experience feel less like a bank machine.

WU Messenger ease of use

Leveraging Physical Locations and SMS

One advantage Western union has over other online money transferring infrastructures is that they have the most physical agent locations. This is important in some countries where not everyone has a bank account.

So we designed for the process of pick-up/sending in person as well. Where instead of getting a tracking number, you receive a scannable QR code that the agent worker can scan to verify and give/send the money.

We also considered designing for those that might not have smartphones, an SMS flow equivalent

View SMS flow

Making Transaction Seem Less Like Transactions

Throughout the experience we aim to remove the emotional baggage around money transfer by integrating it into the idea of conversation. This translated into integrating the transaction history directly into the chat page with a simple filter.

Beyond Money Transfer

Other considerations we made beyond money transfer, was how to make the process of communication overseas easier as well.

We designed a schedule a call function, where a user can set a day and time to make a call, and see what time it is for the other person in their time zone. We also added in the features of archiving important messages, displaying the other person’s local time and also a low battery indicator to help avoid sending/expecting messages at the wrong time.

WU Messenger ease of use

Strengthening Brand in the Digital Age

This is an opportunity for Western Union to stop being the source of friction for families trying to access remittance payments and instead act as a connecting force. This allows them to separate themselves from other companies trying to enter the mobile payment space

This product extension also gives Western Union multiple new strategies such as using ads to offset transfer fees, offering integration to other services and strategically cutting down on kiosks in certain regions in the future as banking becomes more prevalent there.

WU Messenger ease of use

The Process

This was a 3 week project done for a senior UX design course, working in a team of 5. Within the time frame we couldn't push the project as far as we wanted to, so one of the team members and I took another 2 weeks after the course to iterate on the idea further. I took this as an opportunity to work on the visual design, and follow Google Material Design patterns to inform our UI patterns and interactions.

View Previous Iteration Comparison