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Wal-Mart Unveils New Money Strategies

[Jul 13, 2007.]


The corporate powerhouse known as Wal-Mart has unveiled some interesting financial strategies for the year ahead.

The company has decided to introduce the Wal-Mart MoneyCard, which is a prepaid Visa that can be utilized wherever Visa is honored. Customers can re-load the card for a fee of $4.95. Interestingly enough, the MoneyCard can also be used at automatic teller machines since clients are permitted to choose a personal identification number. The card even bears the customer's name. However, the card requires no credit background check, which can be helpful to customers with troubled credit histories.

The disadvantage of the MoneyCard, however, is that it cannot be used to help a customer establish a good credit history. It may also be difficult for a customer to use the card for car rentals. Fortunately, Wal-Mart itself is quite up-front about this, as well as about the terms of using the card.

In addition, Wal-Mart is setting up MoneyCenters around the country. According to company officials, the centers will "assist customers who are outside mainstream banking with convenient, nationwide access to low-cost money services, including check cashing, money orders, bill payment and money transfers."

The company also plans to add other financial services in the immediate future. As a result, Wal-Mart may be competing head-to-head with banks and other financial institutions. Currently, Wal-Mart customers can purchase credit reports, invest in money market accounts and stocks, and get checks printed, thanks to the company's impressive list of services.

The Wal-Mart Money Centers are expected to be in operation seven days a week during the store's normal business hours. It's unclear, at this point, however, how many individuals will be tempted to bank at Wal-Mart rather than at a conventional local bank. Industry experts, though, say community banks should be most worried about Wal-Mart's expansion of financial services.

Julie Ann Amos
July 13th 2007

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