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Walmart welcomes the unbanked

By David McMillin · Bankrate.com
Saturday, April 28, 2012
Posted: 6 am ET

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.

  1. When making purchases via the retailer's website, select the "Cash" option.
  2. Choose whether you prefer the product to be shipped to your home or to a local store.
  3. You'll receive an order confirmation via email.
  4. 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?

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3 Comments
fat dog
June 08, 2012 at 7:17 pm

"...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?"
Most public libraries have computers with internet access. I'm sure there are many other places those who don't have checking accounts and debit cards can and do go on line. Support your local public library!

ALEXANDER LASAK
June 08, 2012 at 6:41 pm

YES BANK CHARGE 200% MORE FOR A RETURNED CHECK FEE WELLS FARGO MAKES 100 MILLION PER MONTH ON FEE ALONE!!!!!!!!!!!! IT COSTS 3 TO 6 DOLLARS TO PROCESS THE CHECK NOT 40 TO 50 PER CHECK!!! WHERE IN THE USA IS GAS 15 DOLLARS PER GALLON????????????$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Dirk
June 08, 2012 at 3:22 pm

You miss the point.

The banks are crooks, they look for anyway to steal from us.

Banks still gouging customers with confusing overdraft rules,

By Herb Weisbaum, The ConsumerMan, online article yesterday.

This allows us to stay in control and not be ripped off.