Western Union CEO: Migrants are responsible for $600 billion in payments a year, yet they "have no voice"

  • Western Union CEO Hikmet Ersek is certainly worried about the protectionism trend that is happening right now but says you can’t stop globalism or globalization. People are too connected. The first wave of globalization was led by big companies, but he says the next wave will be led by individuals.
  • Ersek believes that CEOs have a responsibility to speak up on issues where politicians are falling short.
  • Ersek has been a strong advocate for the migrant population. He says, this community is made up of 158 million people – equivalent to the 7th or 8th largest nation in the world. And this productive population – that sends payments of $US600 billion a year – has no voice.
  • He says President Trump doesn’t understand how even the most developed economies can be helped by the migrant population.
  • Ersek talks about the importance of diversity in Western Union’s management team. He says there are 10 people on his senior management team from seven different nations. Saying, “we are from all different culture, different religion, different race and it’s a good thing.” Ersek says it really reflects the company’s customer base.
  • Ersek says the future of payments will be controlled by the customer. It used to be big banks that controlled financial services. Now, he says, every company is a startup and individuals are completely empowered.
  • Ersek also explains Western Union’s recent partnership with Amazon that allows people to pay for online purchases with the local currency in person.

Hikmet Ersek is the CEO of Western Union. Ersek, a citizen of Austria and Turkey, draws on his international background to speak out publicly for the rights of migrants and refugees. Ersek sat down with Business Insider’s Sara Silverstein at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

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