Watch out Apple and PayPal, Wal-Mart announced its biggest push into the financial services world this morning with the introduction of a low-cost mobile checking account.
No, it’s not a true competitor to Apple’s new Apple Pay, but it does allow customers to manage their checking accounts 100 percent from their phone, making it similar to other mobile wallet efforts.
The new service, called GoBank, is aimed at people who are typically underserved by traditional banks. Through a partnership with Pasadena, Calif.-based Green Dot, a financial services company, GoBank will be available exclusively by Wal-Mart by the end of next month.
A couple of factors make the service cheap. GoBank doesn’t charge overdraft fees, minimum balance fees or monthly fees with qualifying direct deposits.
The service also has a couple of surprising high-tech features:
- Customers can get their paycheck deposited earlier than their normal payday if their employer notifies GoBank of a deposit in advance.
- A “Fortune-Teller” feature crosschecks the price of an item with a customer’s planned income and expenses, and if they can’t afford it, they’ll be advised in real-time to pass on the purchase.
- Customers can instantly send money to each other at no charge via email or text message.
While many people may not consider Wal-Mart a player in the mobile payments world, it already does have a thriving financial services business.
The company offers credit cards to customers with no annual fees and money back on spending, and several years ago, it attempted to become a bank, something that received considerable push-back from banks and activists.
Editor’s note: Walmart.com’s CEO Neil Ashe will be a featured speaker at the GeekWire Summit on Oct. 2. Tickets and details here.