Banks and financial institutions will be watching Walmart carefully.
Walmart recently announced two initiatives: in-store medical clinics and a low-cost checking account through a partnership with Green Dot.
The clinics would be staffed by nurse practitioners and have the ability to take care of basic medical needs with a low cost of about $40 for a visit. The checking accounts are a low monthly fee alternatives for people who are on a fixed income with no fees for bounced or returned checks.
These initiatives are interesting for a couple of reasons. One, they help to further cement Walmart’s brand with its traditionally lower-income customer and two, they are completely on brand.
Walmart has grown its brand on being the low cost provider, the place to go to get the most stuff as cheaply as possible. It is now adding two important and needed features to that brand that their target market, especially in rural areas, desperately need.
I doubt either represents a windfall in additional store revenue but each helps Walmart with customer loyalty, especially in those communities without access to primary medical serves or financial services options. They are part of reinforcing the Walmart brand.
Beyond that, however, each of these has the possibility to be a game changer. Banks will either say good riddance to their lower income customers or be forced to respond if they want to stay competitive. Medical services could eventually see a major competitor for primary care dollars, especially for patients who have a chronic disease and high copays.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. But one thing I can say for sure is that Walmart takes its brand very seriously and these two initiatives are proof of that.