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UPDATE 1-Wal-Mart, Amex launch Bluebird bank account alternative

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Oct 8 (Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc and AmericanExpress Co are teaming up to offer customers analternative to debit and checking accounts, the companies saidon Monday.

The product, called Bluebird, will allow for deposits bysmartphone and mobile bill paying, with no minimum balance ormonthly, annual or overdraft fees.

"Bluebird is our solution to help consumers who currentlymay be poorly served by traditional banking products," said DanSchulman of American Express. "In an era where it isincreasingly 'expensive to be poor,' we have worked with Walmartto create a financial services product that rights many of thewrongs that plague the market today."

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, has long tried toserve its lower-income shoppers who have little or no access tocredit. The retailer offers check-cashing at low rates and otherservices as it tries to appeal to shoppers without bankaccounts.

Bluebird will be available next week online and in more than4,000 Walmart stores in the United States, they said.

The company has said in the past that about 85 percent oftransactions at its U.S. stores are paid for with cash.

(Reporting By Martinne Geller in New York; Editing by Gerald E.McCormick and Maureen Bavdek)

((martinne.geller@thomsonreuters.com)(646 223-6023)(ReutersMessaging: martinne.geller.reuters.com@reuters.net))

Keywords: WALMART AMEX/