Western Union, the money transfer services group, has struck a multimillion-pound deal to sponsor Liverpool football club as part of a marketing push as it attempts to transform itself into a digital payments provider.
The five-year agreement will see Western Union’s logo emblazoned upon Liverpool players’ shirt sleeve this season, which kicks off on Saturday. It is the first season that Premier League clubs are able to have a second company logo on their clothing, on condition that the sponsorship is on the left sleeve.
Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.
As part of the agreement, Western Union will provide Liverpool with cash management and cross-border payment and foreign exchange services. It will offer promotional money transfer offers to Liverpool supporters, via the Western Union mobile app.
Plans are also in the pipeline to launch a global tournament — the Western Union cup — which will see Liverpool travel to regions such as the US and Asia to play the top teams.
Western Union, which has its headquarters in the US, has traditionally enabled customers to transfer money in person using cash or a debit card by visiting one of its thousands of agent locations globally.
However, with more people using mobile phones to send and receive payments, Western Union is now focused on its digital payments app.
Elizabeth Chambers, chief strategy, product and marketing officer at Western Union, told the Financial Times: “Our strategy is to make the business digital; we’ve historically relied on thousands of locations globally, which we will maintain, but we also want to make the business more digital via our app.”
The deal for Western Union also forms part of its plan to attract more corporate customers. Ms Chambers said football clubs had substantial cross-border payments because of their merchandise and touring, so required cash management and currency services.
A number of digital money transfer start-ups have entered the market over the past few years, including Revolut, TransferWise and new banks such as Monzo and Starling.
Competition is heating up. Earlier this year, Revolut launched free international money transfers in the latest attempt by a tech start-up to lure customers from banks.
But consolidation in the sector is under way and more partnerships are forming to achieve scale. In March, TransferWise announced that it will provide money transfer services to customers of digital bank Starling, allowing them to make transfers from the UK to bank accounts in 35 currencies, including euros, rupees and dollars.