Consumer Payment Card News

Wal-Mart Unbanking

After beating up on the debit card business last year, the nation’s 800-pound retailing gorilla has set its sights on the check cashing and money transfer business. This week Wal-Mart announced it is offering a cut rate of $3.00 to cash a check, after announcing last week it will charge a flat rate of $9.46 to transfer money to Mexico. The new check cashing service at Wal-Mart is available in 44 states, with licensing pending in the states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Nevada, New York and Rhode Island. The retailer is charging a flat $3.00 fee to cash pre-printed payroll or government-issued checks up to $1,000. In states where the law requires a percentage based fee, then the maximum fee is $3.00. Wal-Mart’s currently offers its more than one million employees free cashing of their Wal-Mart paychecks. The retailer says its research shows check cashing outlets charge between $5.00 and $15.00 to cash a typical $500 check. Last week, Wal-Mart announced it will charge a flat fee of $9.46, for all amounts up to $500, with a competitive exchange rate, for money transfers to Mexico. The retailer says their fee represents a 40%+ savings over competitors. Wal-Mart also announced that family members who pick up their money at Wal-Mart, Bodega Aurrera, Superama and Suburbia locations in Mexico from now through June 3 will also receive a 40-peso in-store certificate. Additionally, senders will receive a complimentary three-minute phone call to notify family members that the money is on the way. Last year, Wal-Mart led a class action lawsuit by retailers against VISA and MasterCard over their signature debit card business practices. VISA and MasterCard agreed to settle the case for $3 billion and to cut debit card merchant fees by at least 33%. Retailers also won the right to refuse to accept debit cards. As a result, Wal-Mart decided to stop accepting MasterCard debit cards this year while continuing to accept VISA debit cards. Wal-Mart continues to accept VISA and MasterCard credit cards.

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