Public Hearings on Wal-Mart's Bank Bid Begin

WASHINGTON -- The world's largest retailer will be surrounded by plenty of critics today as it begins explaining to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) its plans to provide banking services through an Industrial Loan Corporation (ILC). The hearings are the first-ever formal public hearings on a bank application.

Wal-Mart is expected to outline the functions its industrial bank would perform, while defending its move against a whirlwind of opposition, which includes members of Congress, banks, and the National Association of Realtors. Wal-Mart has maintained it will not offer any services to the general public, open bank branches, or offer payment processing services to other retailers. However, its critics are not convinced.

Among the opposition groups offering testimony is, a labor-backed group that bills itself as "America's campaign to change Wal-Mart." Paul Blank, campaign director for, will testify on behalf of's 210,000 supporters.

Blank will also participate in a joint press conference of elected officials and organizations who will be testifying in opposition to Wal-Mart's entrance into banking today at 11:30 a.m. in front of the FDIC building. Expected speakers at the press conference include Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH), David Bonior (D-MI), and Thomas Bliley (R-VA), according to

In prepared testimony, Blank said, "It is fair to say, given the breadth and scope of public opposition -- from all sides of the political spectrum -- the American people have spoken loud and clear and America says no to a Wal-Mart bank.

"A Wal-Mart bank not only dangerously mixes commerce and banking, but represents a disturbing concentration of capital in the hands of one single corporation -- it will create a new modern-day American monopoly with the economic power of Standard Oil and the values of Big Tobacco," he said.
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