Wal-Mart Bank? Some Oppose Retailer's Industrial Bank Bid

A U.S. regulator on Thursday scheduled two public hearings on Wal-Mart's (WMT) bid to open an industrial bank, setting the stage for the agency's first-ever formal public hearings on a bank application.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said it would hold a public hearing on April 10-11 in the Washington area. A second hearing will be held April 25-26 in the Kansas City metro area.

Wal-Mart has applied to open an industrial loan company to handle electronic payment processing.

Its application, however, has generated significant opposition from banks and some members of Congress who say they are concerned Wal-Mart will use the bank as a base to offer a wider arrange of financial services. Some who oppose the retailer's bid have argued Wal-Mart's bank would violate the historic separation in the United States between banks and enterprises that do not engage primarily in finance.

Industrial banks are state-chartered and state-regulated, and fall under the supervision of the FDIC. Commercial companies may own them because federal laws that bar non-financial companies from engaging in banking activities do not classify them as banks.