As we edge closer to "Higher Expectations Week" -- Wal-Mart Watch's national campaign to hold the retail giant company accountable -- comes this report from Roby Block of Talk Business about Wal-Mart's attempts to expand into the banking sector:
We've reported here before about Wal-Mart's possible entry into the Utah banking market as an "industrial loan corporation," or ILC. This type of bank allows commercial businesses to charter for limited banking purposes, such as processing credit card payments, but does not allow for checking accounts like a typical branch bank would operate. Wal-Mart currently allows about 300 local and community banks to operate branches in more than 1,000 stores on long-term deals.
Wal-Mart's critics have obviously rallied against the smiley face flag. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which must consider the application, has received over 1,500 mostly negative comments on Wal-Mart's request. It was difficult to find any comments in support of the application. The FDIC does not expect to make a decision for at least 200 days.
A majority of the opposition comes from banks and state banking organizations, although there are many individual letters (even one from a bank teller) and correspondence from unions against the application.
There is also a comment from an Arkansas banker in the mix. From Bill Hudspeth, president of the First National Bank of Berryville: "Having grown up in rural northwest Arkansas, the breeding ground of Wal-Mart, and experiencing first hand "the Wal-Mart Way," I can assure you it will be the biggest mistake of your career to approve this application for the reasons already stated."
One letter from a South Carolina banker screams with sarcasm: "I think this is a wonderful idea. I hope they will also get into the real estate business. Why not the automobile industry and the healthcare industry? Maybe they will invade our enemies for us so we can cut back on defense spending."