Bank of Wal-Mart?

Hillary Wicai Mar 15, 2007


SCOTT JAGOW: Wal-Mart has been wanting to open a bank for quite some time now. Not a retail-type bank with branches, but a way to save money on credit and debit transactions. That’s what the company’s said. But this morning, a U.S. Congressman revealed evidence that suggests Wal-Mart is, in fact, thinking retail bank. Hillary Wicai reports.

HILLARY WICAI: Republican Representative Paul Gillmor of Ohio plans today to release an e-mail.

The message from Wal-Mart tells its tenants, including some retail banks operating in its stores that Wal-Mart reserves the right to offer financial services like mortgages and loans.

The information comes just as the House Financial Services Committee is preparing for a hearing next week on whether non-financial institutions like Wal-Mart and Home Depot should be able to operate a bank.

A spokesman for Wal-Mart did not want to go on tape, but in an e-mail responded that “there’s nothing new here,” and that multiple copies of similar leases had been shown to the chairman of the Financial Services committee in the past year.

He added that no one should be surprised that Wal-Mart is interested in financial services. And that Wal-Mart will continue to grow services such as “check cashing, money transfers, branded credit cards and bill payment services.”

In Washington, I’m Hillary Wicai for Marketplace.

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