Wal-Mart Enters Banking Biz With No-Overdraft Checking

Wal-Mart introduced GoBank on Wednesday. The big-box giant hopes the overdraft-free checking account will draw in low- or middle-income families.

Wal-Mart Enters Banking Biz With No-Overdraft Checking
Getty Images / Justin Sullivan

Wal-Mart's trying to mine a large — and, it probably figures, underserved — market of customers.

The big-box giant's decided instead of taking money out of the bank to pay Wal-Mart, how about basically taking money out of Wal-Mart to pay Wal-Mart?

The store introduced GoBank Wednesday, a checking account through Wal-Mart and Green Dot the companies say should be fully implemented in the U.S. by the end of October.

While the store says the accounts are for "on-the-go" customers, the intention is clear — grab up the clientele who don't have consistent access to banks. (Video via Wal-Mart)

The GoBank checking account doesn't take a standard credit rating for approval, has no overdraft fees, and an $8.95 monthly maintenance fee is waived if customers set up a fairly attainable direct deposit of at least $500 a month.

In a statement, Wal-Mart's senior VP of services said, "Walmart 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."

Or, as one network anchor speculated, something worse than traditional banking high fees.

ANDREW ROSS SORKIN, CNBC ANCHOR: "They'll just give you a checking account. It's amazing."

BECKY QUICK, CNBC ANCHOR: "It's actually a really good thing to have because so many of their customers are doing these payday loans. This is a good thing."

The FDIC's most recent estimate shows 10 million U.S. households — about 1 in 12 — don't use a bank.

Wal-Mart could certainly use those households after an extended slump in sales that caused its director of U.S. operations to step down in August and inspired a revamp of its website to presumably make it more competitive with the world of e-commerce and Amazon.

To create GoBank, Wal-Mart paired with Green Dot, a financial corporation that markets itself to low- and moderate-income families in the U.S.

This video includes images from Getty Images.