Wal-Mart Heads Into Battle Over Its Bank Plans

April 8, 2006 - Posted at 1:01 p.m. CST

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) _ Retail giant Wal-Mart says it can save

money by operating its own in-house bank. The Bentonville-based

company is asking the government for permission to open a bank to

handle the 140 million credit-card, debit card and electronic

check payments it handles each year. At present, it pays outside

companies to handle those transactions.

The company says it will stay out of branch banking and consumer

lending. About 300 institutions operate branches in Wal-Mart stores

and the company says it doesn't want to compete with them.

But some of the company's opponents still fear such a step could

hurt local banks much like mom-and-pop stores were during

Wal-Mart's rapid expansion.

This is Wal-Mart's fourth bid at running a bank _ and the

proposal has caused a flood of comments to the Federal Deposit

Insurance Corporation. In response, the F-D-I-C scheduled its first

public hearings ever on a bank application.

The first F-D-I-C hearing will be held Monday and Tuesday in

Arlington, Virginia, and a second one will be held April 25 in

Overland Park, Kansas.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)