When people think about Wal-Mart, they often think of the entrenched real estate empire associated with occupying an enormous square footage and might spare a passing thought towards its lagging efforts to compete with Amazon in the growth of online sales. As a result, it is easy to completely neglect the rise of Walmart’s Money Center as a powerful source of fee profits and information-gathering.
I suspect that the online financial media, which generally caters to an upper and middle class audience, completes misses the number of individuals who are unbanked, either by choice or by necessity. In most parts of the country, the Wal-Mart Money Center is, by proxy, their personal bank that charges $3 to $6 for the processing of each check transaction. It provides other “instrument to cash” and “cash to instrument” type services, and this is an extraordinarily easy way for the bank to make money. Outside of intellectual property, it is as close to pure profit as you can find.