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Wal-Mart Expands Financial Services With Prepaid Card

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Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Wednesday it will start selling prepaid Visa debit cards that don't require a credit check or bank account.

The world's largest retailer has sought an expansion into financial services at its U.S. stores for millions of people who don't have bank accounts or credit cards.

The world's largest retailer will also add hundreds of in-store centers bundling the financial services it already offers, such as payroll check cashing and money transfers. The number of so-called MoneyCenters will rise from about 225 now to 1,000 by the end of 2008.

``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 said in a statement.

The announcement comes three months after Wal-Mart withdrew a bank license application that had been strongly opposed by banks, unions and other critics, who argued before federal regulators that a Wal-Mart bank would have too much economic power.

The reloadable prepaid Visa card, dubbed the Wal-Mart MoneyCard, will be rolled out nationally in partnership with General Electric Corp. subsidiary GE Money and with prepaid card company Green Dot. It can be used anywhere that accepts Visa debit cards and can be reloaded at Wal-Mart stores or Green Dot locations, Wal-Mart said.
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