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Wal-Mart's banking plans to face protests at hearing

By wire services
Published April 10, 2006

What promises to be a contentious, unprecedented four-day public hearing begins today in Washington, D.C., aimed at stopping Wal-Mart Stores Inc. from getting a limited bank license. The discount giant wants to save about $4-million a year by processing its own electronic store payments.

Nobody objected when big corporations such as General Electric and Target got similar industrial state bank charters for the same purpose, but when Wal-Mart was granted a charter in Utah, opponents protested enough to prod the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to consider interceding.

A lengthy lineup of Wal-Mart opponents, including the retail giant's usual union and environmental critics, are being joined by the National Association of Realtors and the Independent Association of Community Bankers. They insist Wal-Mart's use of a "loophole" around banking regulation for a limited charter is a subterfuge to bring the discount chain's low-margin formula to the lucrative loan and financial services business. Wal-Mart says that's not the case.

[Last modified April 10, 2006, 01:54:16]

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