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Western Union sees $500 million online revenue by 2015: CEO

Hikmet Ersek President and CEO Western Union Company attends the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos January 25, 2013.
Hikmet Ersek President and CEO Western Union Company attends the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos January 25, 2013.

By Chijioke Ohuocha

LAGOS (Reuters) - Western Union Co expects revenue from its digital business to grow to $500 million by 2015, from $150 million currently, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

Chief Executive Hikmet Ersek told reporters during a visit to Nigeria's commercial hub of Lagos that while the digital business is only about 3 percent of its $5.6 billion total revenue, it was the fastest growing.

"By 2015, I believe ... digital will be about $500 million revenue and today its $150 million," he said.

Ersek said he did not expect any major acquisitions after the $970 million deal with Travelex two years ago, but could consider targets within the $100 million to $200 million mark, if they support its existing transfer business.

The world's largest money transfer company is cutting prices and investing in new technology to fight competition and regain lost market share in the remittances market.

He said Africa represented a fifth of its global business and saw opportunities for growth in intra-African transfers, as the continent's economies prosper.

"Africa is one of our strongest markets, especially Nigeria," he said. "Nigeria is at the forefront of our expansion plans."

Ersek said Nigeria is the fifth-biggest remittance destination after China, India, the Philippines and Mexico, with 5 million Nigerians living abroad sending money back to relatives. The country is Africa's most populous, with 170 million people.

Last year, Nigeria received $10 billion in remittances from citizens living abroad, out of $40 billion into Africa in total.

(Editing by Greg Mahlich and David Holmes)

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