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Walmart Launches Fintech Start-Up: What it Means For Customers

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Brooke Lynch
01/13/2021

fintech

In 2021, retailers are attempting to cater to customers’ every need: from financial services to healthcare, they’re becoming seamless operations for customers seeking a unified, convenient experience. 

Walmart is the latest brand to hop on this trend, after recently announcing that it’s launching a new fintech start-up with Ribbit Capital, the venture capitalist backer of Robinhood and Credit Karma. Although it is common for retailers to offer financial services, like store-branded credit cards, this is typically offered through an established bank. With Walmart’s latest financial service addition, it’s working to deliver its own ‘tech-driven financial experience,’ tailored to its customers and employees. 

Walmart’s US president and CEO John Furner stated, “For years, millions of customers have put their trust in Walmart to not only save them money when they shop with us but help them manage their financial needs. And they’ve made it clear they want more from us in the financial services arena.”  This financial offering is interesting from a customer loyalty perspective, retailers are evolving to act as a service well beyond the in-store experience. It also illustrates the strength of customers’ trust in the brand; individuals are trusting Walmart with their finances rather than a traditional, more established bank. Though it may be out of familiarity, or convenience, it shows a level of loyalty that indicates an impressive amount of customer confidence in the brand.

This also isn’t Walmart’s first endeavor outside of the retail environment; the brand introduced healthcare services in 2019 with its Walmart Health program. It now offers primary care, dental, and counseling for customers in Arkansas, Georgia, and Texas. So not only can you count on Walmart for your financial needs, but you can also receive medical check-ups and dental procedures. All of these new services work to multiply the number of touchpoints a retailer has with its customer. It also builds onto existing relationships with its current loyal customers; instead of a simple weekly grocery transaction, customers are utilizing the brand for a whole number of new services. 

Though this offers a level of convenience, Walmart broadening its horizons may cause concern for individuals who believe their data and personal information is already being overutilized. As Walmart moves into categories like healthcare, customers may form suspicions on how their personal information, from appointments or check-ups, may be interpreted and leveraged by the brand. Additionally, past data breaches from retailers like Target may spur anxieties over whether customers should trust retail brands with this sensitive health and financial data.

However, customers who are interested in this one-stop-shop approach will likely benefit from Walmart’s abundance of newly acquired data. This represents an opportunity for the retailer to elevate personalization efforts, as it begins to analyze more and more personal data about their customers. As Walmart understands more about customers’ health, it may be able to highlight the lowest price medications or offer substantial discounts. With this, Walmart will gain greater insight into its customers’ behavior to better tailor its services and design the best possible customer experience.

Ultimately, Walmart’s efforts represent a growing shift toward an overall retail expansion. Brands are crossing categories to provide customers with a seamless, all-encompassing experience. And while customers certainly benefit from this convenience, Walmart truly benefits from this more holistic view of its customer base and its ability to form more active and involved customer relationships. 

 

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