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Wal-Mart will offer bank accounts through debit card company

Hispanic Community Wal-Mart store in Garland, Texas

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Three years ago, Wal-Mart applied for a banking license. The retail behemoth then pulled back after political and industry opposition. Now it's attempting to get into the banking business another way, indirectly. Marketplace's Gregory Warner reports.


GREGORY WARNER: Wal-Mart has purchased a minor stake in Green Dot, a California-based debit card company that already offers the Wal-Mart Moneycard. Now that company, Green Dot, is applying for its own federal and state banking license and Wal-Mart plans to offer savings accounts to its core customers.

CHRISTOPHER WHALEN: If you're Wal-Mart, you want to be everything to your customer. Food, eyeglasses, dry goods, banking.

Christopher Whalen is with Institutional Risk Analytics. Wal-Mart and other retailers have been trying to get into banking for years. Whalen says the big banks have to learn that their industry is just one more service.

WHALEN: Obviously the banking industry is going to see this as the camel stickin its nose under the tent again.

For Wal-Mart, its a chance to offer a branded bank account to tens of millions of customers that have no bank account and maybe never did. And to closely track those customer's habits -- both when they're spending and when they're saving.

I'm Gregory Warner for Marketplace.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.
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