Wal-Mart Expands Services for Low-Income Shoppers

May 3, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
Epoch Times Photo
Shoppers wait in line to pay for their purchases at a Walmart store in Los Angeles. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW YORK—Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has always targeted value-focused shoppers. Now, it is expanding its services to ensure that the retail giant becomes the go-to shopping—and banking—destination for lower-income consumers.

FDIC statistics indicate that one in four consumers is unbanked or under-banked, meaning they don’t have access to certain banking services and products, either due to low credit score, low income, or limited physical access to banks. Such consumers use cash almost exclusively, which is cumbersome and insecure.

Now, these consumers can turn to alternative financial tools provided by Wal-Mart, the world’s biggest retailer.

For a small $3 per month fee, Wal-Mart provides customers with a pre-paid debit card, which can be loaded by cash or direct deposit. Also, since it is pre-paid, customers cannot be charged with overdraft fees. 

The card is dubbed MoneyCard, and is part of Wal-Mart’s foray into the banking sector, serving a demographic that should already be intimately familiar with the company.

Paying With Cash… Online

Don’t have a bank account but have Internet access? You can still shop online, at Walmart.

“Many of our customers shop paycheck to paycheck and are looking for more ways to purchase items online but don’t have the means to a credit, debit, or pre-paid card,” said Joel Anderson, president and CEO of Walmart.com, in a statement.

Wal-Mart’s Pay with Cash program enables shoppers to purchase goods online and then pay for the products at any local store within 48 hours. 

This is a way for unbanked customers—those without a bank account or credit card—to shop online.

With the nation’s larger banks attracting more scrutiny and popular backlash due to hidden fees and high overdraft charges, it’s no wonder Wal-Mart has tossed its hat into the ring with these offerings—especially with its core target market.

The Bentonville, Ark.-based company is the world’s biggest retailer by sales. It is currently mired in a Mexican bribery controversy, where Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has allegedly bribed certain government officials in order to expand its business in several Mexican states.