Wal-Mart reaches out to the unbanked
The retail giant could give banks a run for their money.
Wal-Mart (WMT ), the world's largest retailer, and American Express (AXP +0.44%) announced plans Tuesday to offer alternatives to conventional bank accounts, whose escalating fees are souring increasing numbers of Americans on the financial services industry.
Customers of the new Bluebird service will be able to use many of the same features as conventional bank account holders, such as withdrawing cash from ATMs, paying bills electronically and making deposits via smartphone. But they won't need to meet a minimum balance or pay monthly, annual or overdraft fees. Bluebird, which began as a pilot last year, is set to launch next week.
The service is Wal-Mart's latest foray into financial services for the so-called unbanked or underbanked. Wal-Mart has financial services locations, called MoneyCenters, in more than 1,000 stores that offer electronic bill paying, check cashing and tax-preparation services.
read more: Look out, big banks, here comes Wal-Mart