Walmart announced earlier this week that the retail behemoth will offer low-cost checking accounts to its customers. The accounts will have no overdraft fees, minimum balance fees, or monthly fees — however, consumers must deposit at least $500 a month or face an $8.95 fee.
The Guardian explains:
“Morphing into a bank has been an obsession of Walmart’s, right up there with trying to open a store in New York City,” says Brian Sozzi, CEO and chief equities strategist of Belus Capital Advisors.
Walmart’s hard-won progress has come through partnerships, with American Express for its BlueBird pre-paid cards and with Green Dot for the money transfers and checking accounts.
These are also not customers that banks have shown any willingness to fight for, and which banks really want. Walmart has suffered a catastrophic exodus of lower income Americans ever since cuts to food stamps took place at the end of 2013. By offering low-cost banking, the retailer can hope to give them a reason to drop by the superstores.