Wal-Mart to Open 1,000 Money Centers in U.S. Store

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of Bentonville said Wednesday that it will open 1,000 Money Centers in its U.S. stores and launch a pre-paid "MoneyCard" through a partnership with GE Money and Green Dot.
Wal-Mart already operates 225 Money Centers, which offer such services as check cashing, money orders, bill payment and money transfers. The retailer said it will double that number to 450 by the end of this year and more than double again to 1,000 by the end of 2008.
Wal-Mart's MoneyCard, meanwhile, will allow customers to buy a reloadable prepaid Visa card to use for purchases. The card will be rolled out to about 1,300 Wal-Mart stores by the end of June and to another 1,300 stores by the end of July. The card will be available at most Wal-Mart stores by year end, the company said.
"Many of our customers are paying too much, traveling too far and not being well served," Jane Thompson, president of Wal-Mart financial services, said in a news release. "But they still need to pay their bills, cash their checks and transfer money. We’re offering them a safe place and a card to help them manage their money. We’ve seen firsthand what a difference that can make. It changes lives."
The Money Center and the card are aimed at Wal-Mart customers who don't have access to traditional banking services.
Wal-Mart said it conducts more than 2 million money services transactions each week. It said that last year, customers who used Wal-Mart’s money services saved an average of $450 a year, or about $40 a month.
Shares of Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) were trading at $49.08 on Wednesday after closing at $48.81 on Tuesday.