Prepaid debit-card provider Green Dot Corp. relies on Wal-Mart Stores Inc. for about half of its revenue. So a deal announced last week that doubles down on that relationship excited the Pasadena company’s investors.
Wal-Mart will become the exclusive distributor of GoBank, Green Dot’s mobile-based checking account service. Customers will be able to sign up for GoBank and deposit cash in their accounts at 4,200 stores across the United States by the end of next month, according to a Sept. 24 press release.
Investors saw that announcement as a signal that Green Dot is strengthening its ties with Wal-Mart, the main seller of its prepaid cards. The prepaid card agreement between the two companies is up for renewal in May.
Green Dot’s stock soared 24 percent to close at $23.41 during the week ended Sept. 24, making it the biggest gainer on the LABJ Stock Index. (See Page 78.) Nearly all of the movement happened Sept. 24, after the GoBank announcement.
Green Dot officially took GoBank live in June and had advertised heavily on college campuses, but Wednesday’s announcement dramatically widened the product’s reach.
“Now, people of all income levels who want a better checking account can get one from a store,” Green Dot Chief Executive Steven Streit said in an email to the Business Journal. “Whether they’re simply looking for a better checking account, or looking for their first checking account, GoBank can be their bank.”
Tien-tsin Huang, an analyst who covers Green Dot for JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York, called the program a promising development for Green Dot, whose Wal-Mart-related revenue had dropped in recent quarters. One possible factor behind this was Wal-Mart’s decision this year to sell competing prepaid debit cards issued by New York credit card company American Express Co. But Huang believes Wednesday’s announcement was a step in the right direction in bolstering Green Dot’s Wal-Mart business.
“The effort should reinvigorate growth at Wal-Mart while diversifying its dependence on the prepaid program that is up for renewal in May 2015,” he wrote in a Sept. 24 research note.
Ashish Sabadra, an analyst covering Green Dot for the San Francisco office of German finance giant Deutsche Bank, also believes the new deal should help the company extend its relationship with Wal-Mart, though with less favorable terms.
In a Sept. 24 report, Sabadra said he expects a new contract will give Wal-Mart at least a 30 percent commission on Green Dot sales, up from 26 percent under the current contract.
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