What does Walmart's GoBank mean for you?

The Lempert Report
October 27, 2014

Is this a clever and well-timed move on the part of Walmart?

Walmart expanded into the banking world recently with its Green Dot Bank relationship. The two have joined forces and launched GoBank, a checking account product exclusive to Walmart, which will be available nationally by the end of October.  Why is this a clever and well-timed move on the part of Walmart? We see a few reasons:

First, It captures the significant unbanked population in the United States (Some 15% of households in major U.S. cities lack checking or savings accounts, and another 24% have accounts but also use payday loans and other financial alternatives, reports The New Yorker).  Also, it rebuilds positive quarterly sales to its core base of low-priced customers, and finally, it initiates momentum for the upcoming Q4 holiday season. Why? Because America’s economic recovery hasn’t reached everyone – and millions of households continue under financial stress. Consider these points, for example:

•While wages stagnate, the costs of childcare, health care and college tuition continue to soar. A recent Pew survey showed 57% of Americans feel their income trails the cost of living – versus 44% before the recession began, reports The Associated Press.

•Millennials are putting off marriage and births due to money pressures, and millions live in their parents’ home again after graduating from college into a weak job market.

•College enrollments are down the past two years, says the Census Bureau – as the nation’s collective student debt reaches a reported $1 trillion, with a payoff in well-paying jobs less evident today than before the recession.

Moreover, GoBank could help Walmart recapture some of its former customers who’ve been shopping in dollar stores lately.  NPD Group reports visits to the channel grew 14% in the May-to-July quarter vs. a brick-and-mortar market downtrend of four percent.