A little article appeared in the Wall Street Journal last night announcing that Walmart has formed a partnership and a company with investment firm Ribbit Capital to create financial services products for Walmart’s customers. Ribbit has backed such notable fintechs as Buy Now Pay Later company Affirm, crypto platform Coinbase, neo banks Revolut and NuBank, and investment app Robinhood.
No word yet on what services Walmart intends to build or possibly buy and offer to its customers, but it is convinced that customers want to buy more banking services from it. Over ten years ago, Walmart pursued acquiring an Industrial Loan Company (ILC) charter to aid its ventures into financial services. It appears now it will be able to accomplish even more than an ILC would have permitted without the entanglements of a charter. This will be one to watch. Here’s what WSJ found:
The new company will be majority-owned by Walmart, and the board will include Chief Executive of Walmart U.S. John Furner, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Brett Biggs, as well as Meyer Malka, managing partner of Ribbit Capital.
Walmart said that it anticipates growth for the new venture may come through partnerships and acquisitions with leading fintech companies. Walmart’s existing financial-services offerings, which it says it will continue to offer, include its credit card, a reloadable debit card, cash transfers and check cashing.
Mr. Furner said in prepared remarks that its customers have “made it clear they want more from us in the financial services arena.”
In the mid-2000s, Walmart pursued an industrial loan charter from banking regulators, which would have allowed it to operate a bank unit. Met with tremendous resistance from the traditional banking industry, Walmart eventually abandoned the effort.
Overview by Sarah Grotta, Director, Debit and Alternative Products Advisory Service at Mercator Advisory Group