Wal-Mart recently announced their intentions to introduce ATMs to some branches. In an announcement last week, Wal-Mart said they will begin placing a “Money Center is a box” in selected stores.
Wal-Mart have been running Money Centers for several years, which are staffed centers offering bank-like services such as check cashing, bill payments and wire transfers. The new plan is to place automated Money Center machines in new stores and save on labor costs and floor space.
Wal-Mart currently has over 1,000 Money Centers nationwide which are manned by customer service agents. These are some of the most profitable areas in stores. Experts say that the new venture which introduces automated services should have both competing retailers and banks nervous.
Wal-Mart has not yet made any announcement regarding which stores the new Money Center ATMs will be placed in. Acting as a spokesperson for the company, Wal-Mart’s chief of financial services, Jane Thompson said,
It’s going to be kind of like where’s Waldo. You’ll have to find them!
Wal-Mart has been a long time campaigner for cheaper banking services. The world’s largest retailer have battled with card networks and banks over interchange fees, and they stand to be one of the largest beneficiaries of the new caps on debit card interchange fees being introduced next month as part of the Dodd-Frank Act. Wal-Mart is currently one of the country’s top sellers of prepaid credit cards which are issued in partnership with Green Dot Corp.
Experts say that self-serve banking kiosks are the way forward. Many banks and other financial institutions have been trying to encourage the use of self service in an attempt to not only control labor costs, but also to extend store opening hours. Self-service kiosks are a great way to blend internet banking and other financial transactions with the physical world.
If you take a Wal-Mart shopper, if maybe they want to buy a washing machine and they want to transfer funds online without having to get to their home computer, or maybe they don’t have easy Internet access, they can do that now within a Wal-Mart. It makes a lot of sense for a limited segment of the population.
said James Van Dyke, the president of Javelin Strategy and Research.