A neo bank is a financial institution that offers banking services but is not a traditional bank. Neo banks are often online-only and use technology to provide a more modern banking experience. They typically offer a limited range of financial products and services, such as personal accounts, debit cards, and money transfers. Neo banks have grown in popularity in recent years as more people have become comfortable using financial technology. Many neo banks are priced similarly to traditional banks, but some offer lower fees or interest rates. How does Walmart fit into this?
Walmart has made no secret of the fact that it wants to play a broader role in financial services. Years ago, it sought a bank charter, but when that didn’t materialize, it partnered with traditional and non-traditional providers for services such as gift cards, general purpose reloadable cards, bill pay, money transfer services and the list goes on. Now, according to a report in Finextra, it is ready to roll out a checking account through its startup group, called One.
The market is full of neo, challenger, digital-only bank options for consumers offering free or nearly free banking services. This will be a test to see if the power of the Walmart brand can attract account holders among its employee base and its over 100 million active U.S. shoppers away from their current banking provider. If they attach compelling rewards to the account, they will likely be very successful, particularly in this economic period of high inflation. It will be interesting to watch if they attract customers who are currently receiving financial services from other neo bank solutions or if they draw their customers from traditional banks and credit unions.
Here’s what the article reported:
The move marks a major escalation in the world’s largest retailer’s foray into financial services, with lending and investing products expected to follow.
The bank account will be offered through One, the independent fintech unit Walmart has established under the leadership of former Goldman Sachs consumer banking chief Omer Ismail.
Initially called Hazel, the unit rebranded earlier this year after it acquired neobanking player One and earned wage access firm Even. At the time it already had 200 employees and more than $250 million in cash on its balance sheet.
Walmart has 1.6 million US associates and 100 million-plus weekly shoppers. Initially, the checking account will be tested with thousands of staffers and a small percentage of the retailer’s online customers, says Bloomberg.
Overview by Sarah Grotta, Director, Debit and Alternative Products Advisory Service at Mercator Advisory Group