Wal-Mart to expand financial services; introduce pre-paid Visa cards

Source: Wal-Mart

In a groundbreaking move to help Americans save money and live better, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) today announced it will open 1,000 Wal-Mart MoneyCenters – covering a quarter of its stores – by the end of 2008.

The company will also broaden its menu of financial products and services, beginning with the launch of the Wal-Mart MoneyCard, a reloadable prepaid Visa rolling out nationally with GE Money and Green Dot.

The rapid expansion of its low-cost money services and in-store locations will help meet the needs of the millions of unbanked and underserved customers who visit Wal-Mart each week for their basic money service needs.

Wal-Mart MoneyCenters 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. Together with the Wal-Mart MoneyCard, which provides many of the advantages of a checking account in your pocket - an easy, safe and convenient way to manage money, pay bills and make purchases - Wal-Mart is providing a foundation from which customers can achieve their financial goals. Benefits include:
Wal-Mart MoneyCenters
  • Convenience—One-stop shopping with extended hours, seven days a week
  • Safety —Well-lit, safe and secure area to cash checks, pay bills and transfer money
  • Savings — With Wal-Mart's every day low pricing, customers can save 25 to 50 percent or more over other leading money service providers.

    Wal-Mart MoneyCard
  • Convenience—Use at all locations where Visa is accepted and at ATMs worldwide. Shop and pay bills by phone or online, pay at the pump.
  • Safety—No need to carry large amounts of cash and funds are protected if card is lost or stolen. Online access to track your activity. Daily balance alerts on your cell phone or email
  • Savings—No over limit fees. Designed so customers can minimize or avoid usage fees

    "Many of our customers are paying too much, traveling too far and not being well served," said Jane Thompson, president of Wal-Mart financial services. "But they still need to pay their bills, cash their checks and transfer money. We're offering them a safe place and a carg them a safe place and a car transfer money. We're offering them a safe place and a card to help them manage their money. We've seen firsthand what a difference that can make. It changes lives."

    Wal-Mart currently conducts more than two million money services transactions each week. Last year, customers who used Wal-Mart's services saved an average of $450 per year (or almost $40 per month). With the opening of additional Wal-Mart MoneyCenters, total savings are expected to grow dramatically this year, putting over $320 million back into customers' pockets.

    "The $40 our customers save each month can grow to become the down payment on a house or help pay for a child's college education," said Thompson. "That's our goal—to help our customers prepare and save for the future by giving them access to greater financial opportunities."

    With 225 currently, Wal-Mart MoneyCenters will double to 450 by the end of this year and then more than double again to 1,000 by the end of 2008.

    Wal-Mart MoneyCard Offers Savings, Safety, Convenience
    The Wal-Mart MoneyCard is a reloadable prepaid Visa card issued by GE Money Bank and offered at Wal-Mart's every day low prices. The card can be loaded and used instantly after activation; no bank account or credit check is required. It can be reloaded at Wal-Mart or at any of the tens of thousands of Green Dot network locations nationwide. All funds loaded onto the card are FDIC-insured.

    "As we piloted the card, we were happy to see how quickly our customers began using it to manage their money," said Thompson. "They immediately understood the value and how to take advantage of benefits, such as direct deposit or loading their paychecks in our stores. The acceptance has been exciting to watch because it means we've met a real need for our customers."

    The Wal-Mart MoneyCard will be rolled out to approximately 1,300 Wal-Mart stores by the end of June and to another 1,300 stores by the end of July. The card will be available at most Wal-Mart stores by year end.

    Menu of Low-Cost Services Will Continue to Expand
    Today's announcement comes after months of extensive research pointing to the need for greater access to more affordable money services. Wal-Mart will continue to pilot and test many different products and services in an effort to provide the financial services customers need at various stages of their lives.
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