Wal-Mart, Amex launch Bluebird bank account alternative

BENTONVILLE, Ark., Mon Oct 8, 2012 – Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and American Express Co. are teaming up to offer customers an alternative to debit and checking accounts, the companies said on Monday.

The product, called Bluebird, will allow for deposits by smartphone and mobile bill paying, with no minimum balance or monthly, annual or overdraft fees.

“Bluebird is our solution to help consumers who currently may be poorly served by traditional banking products,” said Dan Schulman of American Express. “In an era where it is increasingly ‘expensive to be poor,’ we have worked with Walmart to create a financial services product that rights many of the wrongs that plague the market today.”

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, has long tried to serve its lower-income shoppers who have little or no access to credit. The retailer offers check-cashing at low rates and other services as it tries to appeal to shoppers without bank accounts.

Bluebird will be available next week online and in more than 4,000 Walmart stores in the United States, they said.

The company has said in the past that about 85 percent of transactions at its U.S. stores are paid for with cash.