Bank Wal-Mart???

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Apparently, destroying mom and pop businesses, forcing the music business to turn out sterilized versions of music and underpaying and underinsuring employees while standing between them and any chance of unionizing just wasn’t enough for America’s biggest retail chain Wal-Mart.

No, now they want to have their own bank. Yeah, that’s a GREAT idea.

Wal-Mart says consumers and retail banks have nothing to fear. It pledges to stay out of branch banking and says it will not provide consumer lending. About 300 institutions operate branches in 1,150 Wal-Mart stores and the company says it doesn’t want to compete with them.

Small banks fear the worst.

Concerns are twofold. One is the mixing of banking and commerce – parts of the economy that have traditionally been separate. The other is concern that a Wal-Mart bank could swallow local banks with its national presence and deep pockets, outcompeting even large institutions such as Bank of America, Chase and Wachovia that have also grown at the expense of local ownership.

Community bankers from across the country plan to tell the FDIC they fear an ILC charter would open the door for Wal-Mart to expand into retail banking and drive them out of town.

Buy, why should these small banks worry? It isn’t as if Wal-Mart took over the discount retail market, single-handedly driving thousands of small businesses into the ground often in small towns where those businesses had thrived for generations.

Oh, wait…

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