A banking company named National Commerce is depositing its trust in Wal-Mart to help enhance its bottom line. Memphis, Tennessee-based National Commerce is the parent company of Central Carolina Bank. For the past seven months, National Commerce has been engaged in a “trial” program with Wal-Mart to “co-brand” its services with Wal-Mart. The banking firm has been inside Wal-Mart stores for at least six years, according to the Associated Press, but this past October, the bank branches of National Commerce were renamed “Wal-Mart Money Centers.” Presumably these units can’t be called “Wal-Mart Banks”, because federal regulators want to keep a firewall between banks and retailers. But National Commerce’s President made it clear that he’s trying to make the public think these are Wal-Mart banks. “The Wal-Mart brand awareness brings more immediate trust,” he said. “Now when people see the Wal-Mart name, they are more likely to come in and talk to us.” National Commerce plans to open six more banks in the next few months, part of a corporate plan by the bank to make the company too ezpensive for a take-over by another bank. To the average consumer, the Wal-Mart Money Center is just a place you do your banking. National Commerce is hidden behind Mr. Smiley’s face.
Unfortunately, this is no April Fool’s joke. It’s only the public that will be fooled. More than 40 years ago, Sam Walton bought a bank in Bentonville, Arkansas, which is now a large banking conglomerate called Arvest, overseen by its President, Jim Walton, son of Sam. For more stories about Wal-Mart’s efforts to be the Walbank of America, search the Newsflash page by “bank.”