Goodbye to Big Banks & Their Fees. Hello to Wal-Mart?

Read an interesting article today on entitled Wal-Mart Lures Bank Customers Frustrated by Fees.  Apparently Wal-Mart offers a debit card called the “Money Card” with a flat monthly fee of $3.00 .  The article quotes a waitress named Lisa Barnes who claims she is saving money with the “Money Card” because overdrafting is not allowed.  “You can’t spend what you don’t have, so you can’t go over,” Barnes says.  “You [just] don’t get in trouble with it.”

With this “Money Card” one can make ATM withdrawals and direct deposits.

Of course, after reading the article, I read the comments.  Some good points were made.  The deal Wal-Mart offers with its “Money Card” is much better than the payday loan operations.  I’ll give Wal-Mart some credit if it drives those blood-sucking operations out of business.  One person expressed concern that the deposits with Wal-Mart are not secured with the FDIC, so if Wal-Mart’s banking goes belly up, these customers’ funds have no safety net.  Some questioned why an individual would select Wal-Mart over a local bank or credit union.  Here’s one reason as noted in the article: “Wal-Mart is open a lot longer than just about any bank I know of,” [Richard] Grant [of Lipscomb University] says.  “I guess the way to say it is Wal-Mart doesn’t have banker’s hours.”

Of course there were comments about eventual out-sourcing by Wal-Mart, or the  low wages Wal-Mart pays its employees or how Wal-Mart has driven out many mom & pop business.  Others stated they never have and never will set foot inside of a Wal-Mart because of its corporate practices.  But these comments don’t concern the heart of the story.  Wal-Mart is filling a void in banking services.

Hmmm, this indeed may be a smart move on the part of Wal-Mart.  The working poor can kill two birds with one stone:  shop and bank.  And Wal-Mart’s hours are convenient for the worker’s schedule, not the other way around.

But is this new program by Wal-Mart just a passing fad, in light of the negative American attitude toward Wall Street and the Big Banks and the attention Occupy Wall Street has galvanized?

Not according to Ben Jackson, who watches the debit card market (there is such a thing?) for Mercator Advisory Group.  “The banks lobbied very hard to prevent Wal-Mart from getting a bank charter and in a lot of ways I think . . . their worst fears came true in that Wal-Mart is still competing with them,” Jackson says.

Jackson estimates 2 million individuals presently  have the Wal-Mart “Money Card.”  Obviously, that’s just a tiny drop in the buck of the United States’ banking world.

But banks are doing their darndest to slap fees on their customers, in order to generate revenue, in order to stay in line or ahead of Wall Street quarterly estimates.  Banks are so keen about meeting or beating expectations.  These big banks want to show a profit anyway that they can and the big banks don’t care if they hurt their customers in the process.

Well, bank customers have had enough!  And big banks are driving some of those customers into the open arms of Wal-Mart.

Now, the question is, will Target toss its hat in the ring and attempt to go “toe-to-toe” with Wal-Mart by offering a debit card?


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