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Wal-Mart teams up with Green Dot to offer low-cost checking accounts


Bentonville, Ark. – Wal-Mart Stores is moving deeper into financial services. The retailer is launching an exclusive checking account product, called GoBank, with Green Dot Corp., a prepaid-cards specialist. Wal-Mart already offers a prepaid debit card, credit card, check cashing and money transfers.

The new service, offered through Green Dot’s banking unit, is linked to MasterCard debit cards. Designed as a low-cost alternative to traditional bank checking accounts, Go Bank has no fees for overdrafts or bounced checks and no minimum account balance.

In other distinctions, GoBank uses “proprietary” underwriting techniques to allow almost any consumer who passes ID verification to open an account account minutes after purchasing a starter kit for $2.95. The product will be available in most of Wal-Mart’s U.S. stores by the end of October.

“Wal-Mart customers want easier ways to manage their everyday finances and increasingly feel they just aren’t getting value from traditional banking because of high fees,” said Daniel Eckert, senior VP of services for Wal-Mart U.S. “Adding the GoBank checking account to our shelves means our customers will have exclusive access to one of the most affordable, inclusive and easy-to-use checking accounts in the industry. GoBank gives our customers yet another option as to how they manage their money.”

The new service will have a monthly membership cost of $8.95, which will be waived with a qualifying direct deposit of $500 per month. The accounts will be insured by the FDIC.

GoBank includes instant person-to-person payments and pay-anyone bill pay. It also features budgeting tools such as “Fortune Teller,” which crosschecks the price of an item with a customer’s planned income and expenses, and if they can’t afford it, they’ll be advised in real-time to pass on the purchase. Customers can also instantly send money to each other at no charge via email or text message.

In 2007, Wal-Mart ended attempts to secure a federal bank charter after facing steep opposition from the banking industry. However, the company has since launched a range of financial services that it can offer without a charter, and is now using a partnership with Green Dot to offer checking without a charter. GoBank is the first federally insured bank account Wal-Mart has offered.

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