Wal-Mart is not new to the prepaid card segment, as it already offers prepaid cards from Green Dot Corp. During a call with reporters, Eckert said that Wal-Mart has no plans to end its relationship with Green Dot in light of its new partnership with American Express. The discounter has a contract with the Monrovia, Calif., company that expires in 2015. He says Wal-Mart is just broadening its assortment of financial services to serve more customers.
Green Dot depends on Wal-Mart for more than 60 percent of its revenue. The news sent the shares of the Monrovia, Calif.-based company plunging in Monday trading.
Bluebird cards can be used at millions of locations where American Express cards are accepted, both in the U.S. and internationally. Users can deposit funds onto the card via direct deposit, with cash at any Walmart register, or by linking a checking, savings or debit card to the account.
Another key feature: The user can set up sub-accounts for family members or others, giving them access to certain funds, instead of the entire account. So parents could set up such accounts using Bluebird for their children in college.
Madeline Aufseeser, senior analyst at research firm Aite Group, said that what makes this unique is lots of features come with the account.
"It's just a further indication that pre-paid (cards) have gone mainstream," she said.
Wal-Mart and American Express said that more features will be added to Bluebird in the first quarter of 2013. These features will include more options to deposit money and check-writing capabilities.
Bluebird will be available next week at http://www.bluebird.com/ and in more than 4,000 Walmart stores.
Shares of Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart added 13 cents to close Monday trading at $75.26. Shares of American Express, which is based in New York, gained 22 cents to end at $58.78.
Green Dot shares fell $2.618, or 20.3 percent, to close at $10.24.