OLD Media Moves

Nice Wal-Mart banking story

December 22, 2005

Maybe I have missed this story at other papers, but I read Tom Shean’s story in this morning’s Virginian-Pilot about Wal-Mart’s banking plans and was blown away by the revelations. You can read the full story here.

What impressed me about this story was the great detail he got from digging through the regulatory filings to find out the name of the Texas-based bank that has filed to open branches in Wal-Mart locations in the Norfolk area as well as Wal-Mart’s filings with the FDIC to open a bank to process credit card transactions.

I bet there is another story waiting to be written from the letters that the FDIC has received complaining about Wal-Mart’s application. This looks like a story that any business reporter at virtually any newspaper near a Wal-Mart can write — and that’s likely every paper in the country.

Wal-Mart should be a hot topic for every business desk right now, and not just for its banking operations. So should its competitors. I found this story in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on Monday. Apparently Costco is also examining banking.

Of course, Wal-Mart may never get into banking in a major way. About five years ago, when I was editor of Insurance Investor magazine, we ran a front-page story about how Wal-Mart was beginning to sell property and casualty coverage in some locations and wondered how that might change the insurance industry. As far as I can tell, insurance still is an infinitesimal part of Wal-Mart.

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