If you don't have a debit, credit or prepaid card issued by a member of the banking industry, don't worry. You can still shop online, courtesy of one of America's massive big-box chains.
Walmart announced a new "Pay With Cash" program, which allows customers to buy products online without entering the numbers of a bank-issued piece of plastic. Here's how the program works.
- When making purchases via the retailer's website, select the "Cash" option.
- Choose whether you prefer the product to be shipped to your home or to a local store.
- You'll receive an order confirmation via email.
- Print out the order form, and take it to a store within 48 hours to pay with your greenbacks. Once you've handed over your dollar bills, the product will be shipped.
This isn't the first example of Walmart competing with banks. The retailer is known to appeal to a large section of consumers who don't have checking accounts. However, it is worth nothing that the model does not aim to capitalize on fee-laden prepaid cards. It's simply geared toward shoppers who prefer to carry cash.
Still, it also seems pretty inconvenient. While plenty of consumers complain about bank fees, the hassle and additional costs of driving to the store twice don't seem to offer a very compelling alternative.
However, it seems that I'm guilty of thinking a bit closed-minded here. The retailer conducted a recent survey that reveals this type of program will appeal to the underbanked segment of Walmart shoppers. According to the press release from Walmart, more than two-thirds of shoppers with limited access to banking tools would take advantage of a cash-based online shopping service like this one.
Regardless of whether the program appeals to you, it does raise an interesting question: If these shoppers can afford access to the Internet, shouldn't banks make it possible for them to afford checking accounts and debit cards?