Wal-Mart Wants to Monetize Customer Flow With MoneyCenters

Mark Husson, a retail analyst at HSBC Securities, told CNBC’s “Morning Call” that Wal-Mart’s decision to open financial services centers and launch a prepaid Visa card are an effort to monetize the huge flow of customers into its stores.

“If those people are using financial services sold by somebody, it might as well be by Wal-Mart,” Husson said Wednesday. “You might as well get them to come into the store with their paychecks--when they’ve got money, they spend it.”

The Wal-Mart MoneyCenters will be pitched to customers who don’t have traditional bank accounts. The centers will offer a range of services, including check cashing, money orders, bill payment and money transfers. Wal-Mart is also offering the Wal-Mart MoneyCard, a reloadable prepaid Visa backed by GE Money and Green Dot. General Electric is the parent of CNBC.

“This has been in test for some time,” said John Lawrence, senior retail analyst at Morgan Keegan.

“(Wal-Mart) knows the customer base that’s coming into its stores and this is just an extension of some of the things they’ve done before to attract that customer and build the brand.”