Bluebird of (Un)Happiness?

So, the big news last week: after years of attempts, Walmart finally got into the banking business.

For those of you catching up, big-box retailer Walmart has teamed with American Express to offer what essentially boils down to a really fancy prepaid debit card.

Daniel Eckert, VP of Financial Services for Walmart, states that customers are simply tired of fees, or at least the lack of transparency surrounding them, claiming that “Bluebird solves this problem and we believe it’s the best product on the market to help customers affordably manage their everyday finances.”

Are bankers concerned? They should be, since Walmart has a long track record of putting businesses out of business, and particularly if they want to reach that underbanked population that relies on products liked prepaid debit cards. And this isn’t your standard prepaid card, oh no. It’s gone mobile y’all.

So what does Bluebird offer that bankers can learn from?

Bluebird is easy for consumers to understand.
No minimum balance. No fees. No overdrafts – once you’ve spent what’s on the card, it’s gone. American Express plans to generate revenue from the card via processing fees.

Customers can use the card wherever American Express is accepted, as well as at a network of 22,000 ATMs. It also includes a digital wallet with P2P payments via AMEX’s Serve platform. You can also use it for electronic bill payment.

Want to pass some money to the kids? Busy moms can control sub accounts for family members. Prepaid cards are growing in use among the young. Not only can parents use them to control a child’s spending, but the cards (particularly one that you can integrate with your phone, like Bluebird) appeal to tech-savvy youngsters.

Money can be added several ways. Aside from the expected direct deposit method, Bluebird’s mobile app offers RDC – or you can take cash to your local Walmart.

It’s more than just banking.
Everything that’s standard with an American Express card – fraud protection, roadside assistance, and more – is available with Bluebird.

Of course, Bluebird isn’t FDIC insured. But for the underbanked, that probably won’t matter.

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