What’s the quickest way to build a fintech? How about starting with more than a million built-in customers.
Few companies can make that kind of move, but for Walmart it’s a cinch. A financial technology firm created and backed by the American retail giant announced Wednesday that it is purchasing two other fintech start-ups with the goal of building an all-in-one finance app, with Walmart employees as its ground floor users.
Three Become ONE
Walmart’s fintech creation was until now known as Hazel, but will soon be called ONE. The new moniker comes from ONE Finance, one of the two companies it’s buying. ONE is an app-based neobank, basically an app that lets users manage money, apply for a debit card, and access financial services with lower fees than traditional banks. The other company being absorbed is Responsible Finance, which employers can use to offer early paychecks.
The business plan: hook Walmart’s 1.6 million employees by paying them using a new ONE app and convert them to users of other services. The groundwork has already been laid:
- Walmart is a major customer of Even, which lets workers access up to 50% of their pay in advance for a fee, meaning many of its workers are already on board.
- ONE’s digital bank accounts will be able to provide employees — and, potentially, Walmart’s 100 million weekly shoppers — a seamless place to deposit and manage their earnings or savings.
With all those customers lined up, on top of the 120 million monthly users of Walmart’s shopping app, the retail could potentially create its own “super app” — a walled environment where customers can get paid, do their banking, and go shopping all under its exclusive banner.
More to Come: The cost of the acquisitions, which are expected to close in the first half of the year, was not disclosed. Even and ONE combined were valued at $400 million during their last fundraising rounds, according to the Wall Street Journal, and they could soon absorb more fintechs: another $250 million is earmarked for acquisitions.