Wal-Mart Called Threat to Community Banks

Jun 25, 2003

By George Anderson

If Congress passes legislation allowing retailers, most notably Wal-Mart, to
offer checking and savings accounts, it could mean the end for community banks,
say opponents, according to a report on the Baltimore Sun’s Web site.

Kenneth Guenther, president and chief executive officer, Independent Community
Bankers of America said, “Wal-Mart would have the potential to bring, if not
the Black Death, at least the plague to thousands of community banks.”

Donald Powell, chairman, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. responded in a speech
given to banking executives last month. “While I understand the anxiety some
people have on this issue, fear of competition should not be the compelling
argument in formulating good public policy.”

Moderator’s Comment: Should Congress pass legislation
enabling retailers to offer banking services? Do you see a problem if commercial
concerns such as retailers are permitted to participate in the financial industry?

Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve, does
not think it is a good idea to mix commercial ventures such as retailing with
banking, saying the proposed amendment “would alter the structure of banking
in the United States.”

With due respect to Mr. Greenspan, concerns over changing
the status quo is not sufficient reason to vote against the legislation.

Anderson – Moderator

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