Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has applied to the Canadian government for official bank status, which would allow it to expand its financial services in the country.

The Bentonville, Ark., company's Canadian unit has applied to the Department of Finance for permission to establish a bank under the name Wal-Mart Canada Bank (or La Banque Wal-Mart du Canada in French), according to a notice posted Saturday on the Canadian government's Web site.

Wal-Mart's 2005 application to charter an industrial loan company in the United States was withdrawn two years later in the face of opposition from some legislators, banking groups, and community banks that said the retailer might take its customers. (Wal-Mart had said it would use the ILC only to cut its own costs for processing card transactions.)

Eduardo Solorzano, the chief executive officer of Wal-Mart's Mexican unit, said in July that Wal-Mart de Mexico SAB's banking operations may stop posting losses by the end of 2010, earlier than the retailer had forecast.

His unit offers banking services for low-income consumers in branches located in the retailer's stores.

In Canada, Wal-Mart competes with Loblaw Cos., the country's biggest supermarket chain, and Canadian Tire Corp., both of which obtained charters from the government to operate banks that offer loans through their credit card operations.

Andrew Pelletier, the Canadian spokesman for Wal-Mart, did not immediately return a call for comment.

Canada's Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions will accept written objections to the application until Nov. 3.

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