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Big box stores increasing alternative banking resources

Mar 10, 2011 Brian Bradley

Traditional banking outlets are putting up higher hurdles for lower-income consumers looking to receive appropriate services. In their place, big box stores are beginning to introduce programs that will help underserved consumers receive the credit and financing they need. The Columbus Dispatch reports Walmart, Best Buy and Kmart are a few examples of where consumers can to go complete transactions, receive short-term lending and pay bills. According to the paper, Walmart has implemented more than 1,500 MoneyCenters that process and complete more than 5 million transactions per week. That number figures to grow as traditional banks install higher fees on debit cards and checking accounts, which could price out many lower-income consumers. "We're in a place where large banks are becoming more conservative," Kimberly Gartner, vice president of market services for the Center for Financial Services Innovation, told the Dispatch. According to the paper, the alternative consumer financial services industry will eclipse $320 billion. The question moving forward is how the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will be able to, if at all, regulate alternative banking sources within stores.