NEW YORK — Walmart is delving deeper into financial services at its stores and shaking up the money transfer business.
The world’s largest retailer introduced a new money transfer service Thursday that it says will cut fees for its low-income customers by up to 50 percent compared with similar services elsewhere. The Walmart-2-Walmart service is being rolled out in partnership with Ria Money Transfer, a subsidiary of Euronet Worldwide Inc.
Shares of MoneyGram and Western Union plunged almost immediately Thursday after the announcement.
The service, which will be available starting April 24, allows its customers to transfer up to $900 to and from more than 4,000 Walmart stores in the U.S.
It’s a huge footprint that could reshape that industry and is likely to set off a pricing battle.
Customers can transfer up to $50 for a $4.50 service fee and up to $900 for $9.50.
Comparable services elsewhere cost up to $70 when transferring less than $1,000, according to Walmart.
Western Union on its website puts the price of transferring $900 in New York between $20, if using a bank account, to $85 using a credit or debit card.
In 2007, Walmart abandoned plans to secure a bank charter, but it has been creating financial offerings for customers, aimed at those with limited access to banks. Walmart already offers prepaid cards, check cashing services and tax preparation services.
Shares of MoneyGram International Inc., which could get hit the hardest, fell more than 15 percent to $15.25 in midday trading. MoneyGram currently provides money transfers to Walmart. The stock of Western Union Co., its rival, fell nearly 6 percent to $15.19. MoneyGram could not be reached for comment. But in a statement emailed to The Associated Press, Western Union said, “Our retail product and service offerings today are already quite diverse.”